Three readers submitted the following stories about how God used Christian hip hop to change their lives. Rapzilla will share more readers’ testimonies each Sunday.

Anthony Rocco’s story

My name is Anthony. When I was younger, I didn’t grow up in a house that practiced any sort of religion. We called ourselves Catholic, but that was only because we went to a Catholic church on Sundays when I didn’t have sports.

In middle school, I started getting into hip hop — stuff like T.I., old Lil Wayne, Chris Brown, Eminem, B.o.B. and many others. As I got older and started to understand what they were really saying in their raps, I decided to try to do some of the things they rapped about.

First thing I got into was messing around with girls. It’s scary for me to look back now and think I used to be CRAZY about a song that said “so many look good in here — I just don’t know which one I want.”

I would go to parties or meet up with girls and try to hook up with them. This started to become a part of my identity. If I had a “girlfriend” or a girl I was hooking up with, I would be content. But if I didn’t and hit a dry spell, I would hit SUCH a low valley in life.

I also got into drinking and getting drunk at parties. I would just get drunk to say that I was drunk and talk about how “cool” it was. I would rap songs where they talked about getting drunk and thought I was cool because I was doing the exact same thing as they were.

But once I came back to reality, I still had the same struggles that I had before I was drunk.

For all of my high school years, I used to be VERY against smoking anything. But my cousin and his friend were going to smoke, so I just decided, “You know, it’s cool. I hear about getting high from Wiz Khalifa and Mac Miller, and Lil Wayne says he feels like dying when the drugs are gone, so why not?”

We would smoke here and there. That wasn’t as big to me as drinking. But none of this was giving me what I was looking for in life.

The harder I tried getting girls, the more often I would get a no. The harder I tried getting drunk, the less I liked alcohol. It got me wondering, if these rappers brag about all this — how many girls they get, how drunk or how high they are — how do they feel so happy?

As all this was processing, I was working with a family whose son had Autism, and the family eventually discipled me! The daughter showed me Rebel from Lecrae and Andy’s Formerly Known because she knew that I liked rap, and I was hooked! It was so big in my first of couple months as a believer to have music that pointed me to Christ, but also that it was rap.

When I first got Rebel, the song “Desperate” was one of my favorites.

When I started reading in my Bible, I got to Psalms 51. As I was reading, it was sounding more and more like the song “Desperate!” To listen to that and realize these guys are taking their songs from scripture, but also the fact that it was still rap — something that I can still listen to and enjoy — was very crucial.

It’s also been a really cool tool to use as a witness to family members and friends. When I was able to show them Lecrae, Propaganda, etc., it was a witness to them that there is more to life than girls, parties and glorifying things that we are going to lose once we die.

Within the past year, I have been writing spoken-word poems, trying to reach people. I’ve been trying to show people how my life was when I was trying all the things that rappers on the radio rap about, and I was still left with a huge hole in my heart. But I always make sure to end them with the amazing things that God has done in my life — the changes he’s made in me and how He has saved me.