Ja Rule’s ‘Unruly’ path from jail to Christianity

Story highlights

Rapper Ja Rule has described his path to Christianity

He reconnected with God at New York City's Hillsong Church

He was raised in the Jehovah's Witness faith

CNN  — 

After serving time, rapper Ja Rule is now on a more spiritual path.

The artist, who had a thriving career in the early 2000s as part of the label Murder, Inc., told New York radio station Power 105.1 that he’s gone from following a troubled path to seeking Christianity.

Ja Rule, born Jeffrey Atkins, served roughly two years in jail for tax evasion charges and attempted criminal possession of a weapon. After his release in 2013, the rapper picked up a role in the movie “I’m In Love with a Church Girl,” and found himself growing interested in God as he promoted the project at churches.

“I kind of reconnected with God by doing the … movie,” Ja Rule told the radio station. “I reconnected with God in a different way. I was going to all these different churches, … (and they) were great, but I didn’t feel like they were talking to me until I went to Hillsong right here in the city.”

As he recounts in his new memoir, “Unruly: The Highs and Lows of Becoming a Man,” Ja Rule was raised by Jehovah’s Witnesses. When his mother left the faith in his pre-teen years, the rapper says he soured on the religion.

“The family wasn’t speaking to my mother, and I saw how much it hurt her,” he recalled to Power 105.1. “I didn’t want to have anything to do with the religion at all.”

But after his release from lockup, he found himself drawn to New York City’s Hillsong Church.

“You walk into this church and it’s dark in there and the disco ball is still in there and you see the lights and you’re like … well this is different,” he said.

“And then you get in there and you start to look at everybody around you, and they look just like you – it really gave me the feeling that when they say come as you are, they mean the skater kids in the back with the skateboards, like they just came off the street coming to church. It was a different type of crowd.”

And when the church’s pastor, wearing sneakers, jeans and a T-shirt, began to preach, “I felt like he was talking to me,” Ja Rule said.

The rapper added that he and his wife, Aisha, were “saved” at Hillsong – meaning they professed to be Christians – and he’s now trying to figure out how to practice his faith while still being in his profession.

“I want to make sure I’m doing the right thing. I don’t want people to misconstrue what I’m doing here,” Ja Rule said. “I’m taking baby steps, and I want to get closer to God. I feel it’s something you should do in life.”

Since his baptism, Ja Rule said that he’s become friends with the church’s pastor, Carl Lentz.

“I started speaking to Carl, (saying), ‘I don’t know how to do this and take this, because you know what I do for a living. I’m not going to start making gospel records,” Ja Rule said. “He told me, ‘Ja, take baby steps. Walk in your path.’ “