- Communion -
pREACHING THE GOSPEL THROUGH rap MUSIC
While many artists aspire to make it big in the music industry in order to achieve their dreams, have a career, or gain wealth, power and fame, rap artist ‘Communion’ – born Álvaro Vega – marches to the beat of a different drummer, making music for a higher purpose: the glory of God and the salvation of souls. Raised in Weston, Florida, and born to Nicaraguan parents, Álvaro started making music at the age of 17 when he first heard rapper Eminem's debut album and was inspired by his lyrical dexterity. It wasn’t long before Álvaro discovered his passion for music, and began scribbling his own rhymes and experimenting with his own beats on FL Studio, crafting songs with less than Christian ideals and language. He dreamed of what all artists dream of: making it big in the music industry. But God had a different and much better plan.
In 2008, Vega’s life changed dramatically after having had an encounter with God while reading random passages from The Imitation of Christ, a book and spiritual classic written by Thomas Kempis over 500 years ago. “What would it profit a man to gain the world but lose his soul?” Kempis' musings – which are the very words of Scripture re-packaged – hit Vega like a ton of bricks, as he realized how foolish he had been, chasing after the temporary things of the world while ignoring the care of his eternal soul. The words of Kempis brought Álvaro to surrender his life to Jesus Christ, a decision that brought him profound peace and forever changed the course of his life.
Álvaro describes his encounter with Christ as ‘falling in love with God’. His life made a complete 180 degree turn and he was healed miraculously of depression and stomach problems. Immediately he received a calling to drop everything – even music, his former love – to follow Jesus into seminary, to answer that beckoning to serve the Lord as a priest. During his tenure in seminary, he continued rapping, but this time for Jesus, adopting the alias ‘Communion’ and uploading his Catholic rap videos on YouTube, after being encouraged to do so by the rector of his seminary. In late 2015, after five and a half years in seminary formation, Álvaro left, in order to discern an even deeper calling – priesthood as a Franciscan friar. In the meantime, the Lord has led Álvaro to go full-force into music, a tool he is using to evangelize and catechize the youth, and one he hopes to integrate in his future vocation as a religious priest.
His mission is to preach the Good News through a musical genre that is typically associated with spreading bad news. He raps at youth retreats, conferences, schools, parishes, and concerts, sharing the faith through original songs from his debut album Creo en Dios EP. His rap lyrics have an evangelistic bent – they preach the faith and teach catechesis, and often incorporate bible verses. And his sound appeals to a much broader public than the average hip-hop head, as his music offers a departure from the mainstream sound of typical rap music. Rather, he builds on catchy, harmonious melodies, often juxtaposing angelic-sounding vocals on the chorus with his well-enunciated raps on the verses. In order to make his rapped Gospel message accessible to as many people as possible, he composes songs not only in English, but also translates them to Spanish. His music videos, produced by his brother C.M. de la Vega, offer spectacular visuals to accompany his faith rhymes. Communion’s first single, “Creo en Dios”, has enjoyed wonderful success, garnering over 2.5 million hits on YouTube; but while such success is encouraging, numbers and followers are not what he is seeking— his true motive for rapping is the conversion of souls, hoping that his music will be a powerful instrument in the hands of God to bring many youth to salvation in Jesus Christ.