Imagine a pastor who drives one of the original “Bat mobiles.” The car that Adam West drove so boldly in the late 60’s. Next, envision a 6 ‘3” black man with a no nonsense attitude - reaching the hip hop generation with a powerful message of grace and peace. During standing room only plays or “dramanars”, Pastor Deron Cloud gives biblically based answers to the most pressing problems of the twenty something crowd. Many young black adults that Cloud is reaching have been written off by the rest of the world. He preaches a message of personal responsibility and tough love with a loving but militant attitude. Central to this church’s evangelistic outreach is preaching against teen sexuality, abortion, drug use, gang involvement, and absentee parents.
The name of the church is “The Soul Factory”. The name comes from Jesus’ exhortation for his followers to make disciples of all nations in the 28th chapter of Saint Matthew’s Gospel. Therefore, The Soul Factory’s business is making spiritual soldiers out those otherwise destined to be thugs, drug addicts, under achievers, and malcontents. Cloud believes that the grace of God can lift his listeners into a personal realm from which they can function effectively in life – without stepping on familiar cultural booby traps.
At a recent 10 year anniversary service, a church leader spoke of his hopelessness and suicidal tendencies before receiving Christ at “The Factory”. This 30 year old wept as he extolled the virtues of Cloud and his wife, Jill. This impassioned testimony is proof positive that the power of the gospel is at work in The Soul Factory’s unique approach to ministry.
Cloud once considered Islam. He particularly admired the Black Muslims’ ability to reach men, but ultimately chose Christianity and the message of love – while attending the University of Maryland in College Park. Despite his Christian doctrine, as one listens to Cloud’s preaching one hears the heart of a revolutionary. He does not advocate the overthrow of a government, rather he believes that an unseen kingdom influences the world in which we live. The king of that kingdom, Jesus Christ, has not made blacks inferior or victims. In fact, they can become victorious soldiers; if they whole heartedly chose the kingdom of God.
Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.