The loading and firing of a gun are the first sounds heard on Christian rapper Drew Anderson’s album Lazarus that he released this weekend. Those sounds also cameo during the climax of his Christian testimony — when he says he was shot in the face, pronounced dead and placed in a body bag before he awoke.
“I hear people say, ‘He shouldn’t be here,’” Anderson said. “I really shouldn’t be here if it was up to any power other than God.”
This is the whole testimony that he tells.
Anderson was born in Busan, South Korea. Just after birth, he was left on the doorstep of an orphanage, abandoned by his birth parents who he would never know.
After Anderson bounced around foster care for the first 11 months of his life, a military family adopted him. He proceeded to move 15 times in the first 12 years of his life as his dad found new locations with the Air Force. Anderson struggled with self-esteem growing up, stemming from being unable to make friends after moving so often.
When his family settled in San Antonio, Anderson found his first strong friends. However, these friends led him to start a downward spiral of bad decisions. He grew addicted to cigarettes, alcohol and marijuana.
Marijuana led to harder drugs like cocaine and crystal meth. Anderson then became involved in gang activity with his friends. Not only did he do drugs, but he began to sell them.
During these years, he would serve a number of jail stints, the longest for when he robbed a bank.
While spending time with these friends, he started to form an interest in hip hop. He began rapping with them and even made his own music for several years.
On Jan. 30, 2011, Anderson was taking gasoline to a friend who was stranded on the side of the road. He had to park in the distance and walk to where his friend was. As he was walking, he saw some bright lights coming from behind and turned to see a car that had apparently lost control.
The car hit Anderson, shattering a majority of the bones in his lower body. He landed on the hood of the car and made eye contact with the man who had hit him. Instead of stopping, the man pulled back on to the road.
Anderson slid off the hood and was run over by the car as it drove away.
Doctors told him that he would never walk again — that he’d be paralyzed from the waist down. He had begun to use a wheel chair, but one morning, Anderson had the urge to use the restroom.
Without thinking he stood up and walked to the restroom. Doctors and nurses were astonished. Bones had healed that weren’t expected to, and Anderson could walk again.
Although he had been going to church for a few years, Anderson now recognizes that he wasn’t really living for Christ then. On Aug. 30, 2012, he was in for another wake up call.
At around 1:30 a.m., Anderson heard a knock on his apartment door and opened it to see three men. The middle man pointed a gun Anderson’s head and told him that they would like to come inside. That’s the last thing that Anderson remembers.
He was shot in the right cheek bone at point blank range with a .45 caliber handgun. The bullet bounced around the inside of his skull before exiting under his right ear. Anderson was pronounced dead, put into a body bag and taken to an Identification Room at a hospital.
Anderson’s parents tell him that, shortly after the body bag was opened and they identified him, he woke up and went into a series of seizures. Anderson was put on life support immediately, and, after four major brain surgeries, three major facial reconstructive surgeries and 60 days in the hospital, Anderson once again healed — with only some permanent damage to show for it.
Once he left the hospital, the first place where Andrew went was a church. He recognized that God had spared him from death yet again and decided to fully give his life to Christ.
“[God] knew how prideful and arrogant I was and what it was going to take to break through the situation and prideful mentality I had,” Anderson said.
Today, Anderson is a Christian rapper who goes by the stage name C.O.E. (Christ Over Everything). He dropped his debut album, Lazarus, on May 22.
The concept of Lazarus is two-fold, Anderson said. The idea comes from his story of being pronounced dead and coming back to life. He also believes that the world is full of chaos, violence and death and, if proper faith is placed in Jesus, He can raise this world back to life as He did with Lazarus.
“I pray that with what I chose to go through,” Anderson said, “they would hear my story and be encouraged to turn back towards the cross.”
Anderson’s improbable story has been endorsed by several respected artists in Christian hip hop, as Datin, Bumps INF and 5ive were featured on Lazarus.
“As crazy as it sounds, I would not trade the experience of being shot and pronounced dead and all the surgeries and complications for anything,” Anderson said. “That was the true moment and revelation [for me] that, not only is there saving power in the blood of Jesus, but that God is very much alive and His power is very real.”
Buy Lazarus on Bandcamp.