City Lights: Engaging Canada's hip-hop community for Christ

By Brian Yung (Video) and Tianna Haas (Words) | Canada in Amérique du Nord

Youngdo Kang’s ministry, City Lights, is the first of its kind within SIM: It engages the hip-hop community in Toronto, Canada, for Christ.

Hip-hop, a pop-culture movement that originated in the US, connects many through graffiti, rap music, deejaying and breakdancing. Youngdo said: “There’s a whole culture behind it all, with its values and language and tradition.”

Through these connections, Youngdo has seen the potential to form deeper relationships and share the gospel. Youngdo said: “What we’ve done over the years is put on events and to try and get to know people and build relationships … and faith.

“We’ve served meals; we’ve had bible studies and Q&As. We’ve done great fellowship events. We just had a recent annual event, Uprock, where we’re trying to build fellowship amongst people who are already Christians in the hip-hop community.”

As City Lights facilitates camaraderie, it also cares for those struggling in the community. Youngdo said: “We also just had a charity breaking jam, where people from all around the city and maybe people outside of the city, came and donated goods for homeless people.”

Hip-hop was a significant part of Youngdo’s childhood, which is what gave him such a passion to see this group come to faith in Jesus. Youngdo said: “I grew up with hip-hop. So much of my life was listening to hip-hop. That’s probably partly why I enjoy it so much. And I joke that I’m like half Canadian, half Korean, and half hip-hop. I just love it.”

When Youngdo entered pastoral service, the Lord guided him back to his childhood interest as a form of ministry. He said, “As a pastor, I did the typical kind of pastor things. But over the years that I was being a pastor, all these opportunities to do some sort of ministry in hip-hop came up. And so, they just kept coming up over the years. And so, eventually it was like, maybe God’s trying to tell me something here.”

Breakdancing, like other artistic expressions, is a way to joyfully glorify God. Youngdo has witnessed this in their weekly sessions and remarked with a laugh: “I don’t know how b-boys and b-girls do it. I don’t know how they have the energy to do it. Man, God gave all these guys and girls these abilities.”

While the sessions and gathering has paused during COVID-19, Youngdo has high hopes for the future of City Lights. He said: “When you know people, you really get to care for them. And so, that’s what it ends up being. I feel honoured and privileged to do it.

“I’m here to serve them, I’m here to bless them, and if I can do that in any way, like just providing opportunities and a space, I’m glad to do that even if it’s just for the sake of their craft.”

Serve with SIM

Like Youngdo, you may have a special interest that the Lord has placed on your heart. SIM has numerous ministry opportunities available, but we also want to hear about your particular skillset. It may become another ministry that’s the first of its kind! Contact us today to find out how you can serve with your God-given gifts.

Pray for:

City Lights to help those in the hip-hop community understand and respond to the good news of salvation in Christ.

Youngdo as he ministers to this group. Pray he leads and loves this community well through discipleship and evangelism.