A couple of weeks ago, I had the remarkable opportunity to serve in a school halfway around the world.

The week before Thanksgiving, my wife and I packed two weeks worth of clothes into a suitcase and traveled for almost two days to Indonesia. As we worked with middle and high school students there, we met more amazing kids and teachers than I could even list. I was surprised over and over to see both cultural similarities between life in Indonesia and here in the States.

Yet, my biggest surprise came when I had the chance to sit and talk with a 14-year-old guy named Treverrio. The conversation carried an expected path that one would take in talking with a teenage guy: friends, school, sports, hobbies and music. We went back and forth sharing some of the things that we loved.

As we started to talk music I asked Treverrio, or Rio for short, what kind of music he liked. I expected him to say almost anything other than what he told me:

“I love hip hop.”

Once I realized we had some common ground, I asked him who some of his favorite artists were. Again, I expected answers like Kendrick Lamar and Jay Z. And again, Rio surprised me.

“I love Christian hip hop,” was his nonchalant reply. Now this was a shock. For me, to come 11,000 miles from my home in Charlotte to a nation that is 88 percent Muslim, that was the last thing I expected to hear a teenager tell me.

Rio just wasn’t a Christian hip-hop fan, though, this kid bled hip hop. He knew the more well-know names associated with Christian hip hop: Lecrae, Trip Lee, Tedashii and Andy Mineo. Beyond those big names, his list of favorite artist grew deeper: JGivens, Propaganda, Beautiful Eulogy, Social Club and, even his absolute favorite artist, Adrian Stresow.

There are teenage Christian rap fans in the States that might not know who those guys are, and here’s one of their biggest fans on the other side of the world.

Rio loved rap since he was a little boy. He was drawn in by the power of the music and the poetry of the artists. However, some of the content of popular rap was beginning to fall flat with Rio.

“The rap I was listening to wasn’t worthy of God’s praise,” he told me.

That drove Rio to search for guys who would honor God through their music. Through a few internet searches, Rio came across guys like Lecrae and Andy Mineo. He loved what he heard from them and wanted to find more who loved Jesus and expressed it through their rap.

That’s when Rio came across Rapzilla.com. Suddenly, the Christian hip-hop fan in a Muslim country had a community that loved the same things that he did. Almost every day, he’d jump on SoundCloud to hear the next dope song. Every other day, he’d go to Rapzilla.com to see who the next up-and-coming artist was. He was feeling the music and the people who made it.

“I love Rapzilla because you get to discover new artists and get to really know them.”

To know the music. To know the artist. To know the community.

That’s the gift that the community of hip hop had brought Rio. That community is something that existed long before Rapzilla.com or even hip hop. It is a community that is bought and bound by the work of Christ.

As Rio put it plainly, “We all get to listen to this music from different places, but our God is the same wherever we are and what background we come from. Music is a gift that we have to unite the body of Christ.”

So what will we do with the gift that so many don’t get to enjoy?