Welcome to the Testimony Series! This is something I’ve been so excited to share with you all.
About a month ago, God gave me the idea to share the testimonies of some of my friends. Today I’m sharing Jerome’s testimony. Jerome is one of my closest brothers in Christ and I’m honored that we have come as far as we have.
His testimony is a beautiful one so without further ado, Jerome’s testimony.
Tell me a little bit about your upbringing. I know your dad is a pastor, so what was it like for you growing up in the church?
So my dad is a pastor and basically I grew up for about 5 years with both of my parents and then they split. So a good memorable part of my life was them being together, us going to church, me going to day care, playing outside with friends … you know. Typical stuff. I didn’t really get the religious standpoint of it until I got older. I was 5 when they got the divorce so after that, my upbringing was school, church and then every other weekend I would go to my dad’s house. That was a huge part of my life because it was something I had to adjust to. My dad would pick me up from sports, practice – football and baseball – whatever I was apart of, he was always there.
Once we moved, he would actually take me to school because he was a pastor so he had flexibility with his schedule.
So you grew up in Nashville, born and raised. Did you ever live in another city while growing up?
So I lived in Franklin, which is still technically Nashville, but those two cities are vastly different. The demographics are vastly different. So I lived there for 2 years when they got divorced. My mom she wanted to, you know get away, start fresh. So we lived there for about 2 years and then we just weren’t happy living out there so we moved back. But I enjoyed living out there! I was little but I remember having a good time out there but just coming back to Antioch and living there. [Author’s Note: Antioch is a neighborhood / suburb in Nashville]. So I lived in Antioch pretty much my whole life with the exception of college.
Ok! So we all have probably a million testimonies, but which one would you like to share with us today?
Ok so … I guess I could just kind of share how I developed in my relationship with God. I guess I could share that and the … the moments that kind of shaped who I am today. Or rather Who shaped me into being the person I am today. So for me growing up, I grew up in church and I started to learn when I got in youth group, I started to understand how important God was to your life and I started to understand the foundation and principles of who God is. I started reading my Bible more. So by the time I got the high school, I guess I could say I rededicated my life to God.
I got saved at a very young age but high school was when I started to really understand who God was. But I wasn’t really quite … I was still kind of growing. I was still out sinning and doing typical guy high school stuff, dating, doing stuff behind my parents backs.
Would you say that growing up in the church pushed you further from God at any point? Did it make you secretive?
Uhm – growing up in the church it made me – it didn’t push me further from God. I always felt like I wanted to be closer to God. It always made me desire God. It never pushed me further away but it did make me more secretive because I was, behind the scenes, a completely different person than I was in front of everybody else. I think the majority of Christians are probably like that.
It definitely made me more secretive. I always knew I wanted to serve God fully with my whole heart but I think there was this … lack of understanding of how to apply what I learned. It was really a lack of interpretation and because of that all of my stuff was secret sin. So when I finally got to the point where I was affecting someone else, I was married at one point and I realized “wait – this stuff is real. It is affecting someone else!”
I was always in relationships or dating but never did I .. or rather never was I punished and felt the consequences of what I did. I mean I did but I never actually felt them. I got to the point where I was so secretive that it was second nature. But I was … I started to realize as I was growing … I started to become more aware of that.
Do you … actually you know what? Keep telling me the story.
I started to realize the impact that my decisions were having on my life and where I was at. I was wasting a lot of time and probably would have graduated college sooner. Probably would’ve served God privately and publicly faster if I has known more. But I think what happened is that I had conflicting views. I had different people trying to tell me different things. and God kind of opened my mind to understand that … He helped me understand that there isn’t just one way to follow God, to ….
Yes. And one thing I realized is that I don’t have to follow just one pastor. I had different mentors who were great but I found that the ones were that really great, were the ones that held me accountable. The ones who were transparent and open and honest. I realized that I had a surface level relationship with God and once I realized that, I realized that following God in private and in public was a real thing. I started to see a shift in my life once I did that.
I became the person I wanted to become, the person God wanted me to be.
So we’re close to the same age. I think you’re what? 2 – 3 years older than me?
No, I’m younger.
Nah I’m just kidding, I’m 30.
Was there a specific age or season in your life when God got a hold of your life and you realized you couldn’t just serve Him privately but that the walk needed to be public as well?
I would say about … let me see … I would say about 25 / 26. That was when I was married and I left the church that I was a part of. While I was there I started to think that God was showing me more depth. That was when I really started to understand that my walk was mine and that I wasn’t following people. I had to form my own relationship. I had to go about it the way God wanted me to go.
I had to do my own thing and figure out God for myself. Growing up in church it is so easy to get comfortable and just follow God the way your parents follow God and not that what they did was bad, but I realized I needed to follow Him for myself. And through that, that was when I really experienced true maturity and freedom from lust and sexual immorality.
So that was going to be my part 2. How did growing up in the church affect your walk with Christ when you had to be responsible for it?
I feel like … growing up in the church it is very easy to just go based on someone else’s faith and not really truly find what helps you to grow spirituality for yourself. So when I got out and really found what worked for me, that was biblical as well, that was when I really started to find the truth.
Growing up in the church … I just kind of got the point where it just became something I did, not something I lived. And obviously that isn’t everybody’s story! I know some people who grew up in the church and to this day are living right and serving God.
It wasn’t a bad thing though. It was actually a good thing and even though I developed later than I wanted to, I think the principles kept me out of a lot of trouble. I think they kept me from going down deeper than I did. I mean … I don’t have any children! I’ve never done drugs. I drank but it wasn’t like … bad and I don’t even drink now. I think a lot of things I heard growing up in the church helped to keep me.
I think as far as application and going on a deeper level, if you’re not careful you’l just end up in a religious cycle.
So …. you said 25/26. For most people they are out of college at that point. You also said that you graduated college a little later. So what was life looking like for you at that point? Can you give us some context as to why coming into a genuine relationship with God hit deeper at that time?
So I was married at 25/26. I had just started working my full time career. I was maybe 2 years in at that point. Marriage really had a big impact on my maturity and it kind of forced me to grow. I didn’t really want to grow up! I was on the brink of divorce and I still didn’t want to grow up. I was like ” I don’t really want to do this. I just want to live my life and do what I what to do.” I didn’t really feel that way spiritually but I wanted to live my own life and do what I wanted.
I think I got so caught up in getting married and losing my virginity that I forgot that marriage was so much more in depth and that there is so much more to life as a Christian. I don’t think the church really develops single people so I had to learn how to develop myself.
So now you’re on the other side of it. You have a public and private walk with God. I know this because we are friends but you want to get married again. What are you doing in your singleness to prepare for your next and last marriage?
Ah man .. what am I doing?
Or are you even doing anything?
For me … right now I am … uhhh just growing spiritually. I’ve read some books and listened to some sermons about biblical marriage. I’m really just learning while embracing my singleness. Just watching my married friends and watching their highs and low. You know … watching them argue.
Thats the fun part of watching them in a way. Like y’all really arguing right now. But its kind of fun seeing them go through real life. So being around married friends and having good people and community around me. Also counseling. I have a Christian counselor.
But yeah those are the things I’m doing to prepare. Just to kind of … not to necessarily prepare for marriage but to develop as a person. Learning how to manage my money. I’m trying to grow my income and elevate as much as I can. Growing my DJing career… really just stewarding what I have.
The being in community part of crucial because the people around you, they know you! You’ve built relationships with them. They can identify the things in you that don’t look like the person you’re trying to grow into.
Now a lot of these questions I’ve asked, I already knew the answer to because I do know you so well. But I think it would be helpful for my readers so I wanted to ask again. That being said, where does DJing fit into your testimony?
Oh wow… I guess it does. I guess I just always feel like the Christian stuff doesn’t quite fit and that it has to be a traumatic situation but I guess it does. DJing fits into my testimony because my youth pastor said that you’re on the fence and basically lukewarm if you’re not listening to Christian music. I knew I didn’t want to be on the fence anymore so I gave up secular music my senior year of high school. I was listening to all the hip-hop and all the rap. So from there I began to build this catalogue of christian rap. So I built up this catalogue and bought a bunch of music. My dad’s church had a block party and I told him that I would play the music. That night I went home and I said “I want to do this.” I don’t know what I want to do or how I will do it… but I knew I wanted to be a DJ.
So I made a twitter page. This was before Instagram even existed.
Oh thats right! Twitter was a thing way before Instagram.
Yeah it didn’t exist on my Android until the end of my freshman year of college.
So after that I just … ever since then every Christin event in college, I was playing. My dad got me my first pair of turn tables. I have a picture of when I got them. From then on, I did every event and Bible study I could. I played Christian Hip Hop until I was blue in the face. I was in this really white friend group in college and they were like “man we want to hear something else.” and I was like “No. This is what I’m playing.”
So like I said, I played Bible studies and big gatherings. When I switched to another church and a different school, I still ended up doing something with DJing. Then I switched schools again and started doing events outside of school and started to get paid for my work. 99% of the time I was playing Christian music. I did a couple clean secular gigs here and there but for the most part, it’s been Christian music.
I’ve just been going hard the last 3 years. So now it is kind of like … who I am. It is a part of who I am.
I just realized another way its a part of my testimony. Before I got married, it was kind of like this alter ego.
Oh ok. Explain that more.
I realized that I was kind of … well I wouldn’t say prideful but I was just getting started and I kind of felt like it was my alter ego because I was living sort of a double life. On stage I was one way and behind closed doors I was doing … male things. I won’t dive into everything but … you know.
The second go round, after I got divorced, I got back into it because I felt like I was good at it. Not just because it was what I was good at but I realized it was my purpose. So when I got back into it, I made sure I was growing spiritually and I made sure I that this was the lifestyle I was really living. So even if I was really struggling, I made sure to walk the journey with someone, a friend or family member, instead of being this independent person. Bringing people into my decision making and being able to go out to DJ and actually live the Christian life I was claiming that I was living. Now I actually think about stuff like that.
I’m a Christian first and a DJ second.
So that’s the different between the alter ego and ….
Yeah exactly. . me now. Thats the big part
So I have two more questions for you.
Go for it.
Do you think you’re walking in your purpose or do you think God has to reveal something else about your purpose to you?
I think I am walking in my purpose! For a while I wasn’t. When I stopped DJing I was like … man I’m good at marketing but it was another career. I wasn’t passionate about it. I got as deep as I could in that career and I realized it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t fulfilling. It wasn’t what I wanted to do. This is not who I am. It was just a skill I had and something I thought I wanted to do.
I was really good at promoting in college. I wouldn’t say I was the best but I was really good at creating good content.
So there was definitely some talent there?
Yeah for sure. I value good creative stuff and stuff that looks good but I realized this wasn’t going to be a long career.
So I had a job and I actually got fired because I wasn’t living up to the expectations for the employer. At the time I kind of knew I wasn’t but at the same time I kind of knew it wasn’t for me. Like I had access to every part of marketing you could imagine. I was doing radio shows, live events, social media, emails, newsletters. I had everything that I wanted.
Then I crashed and burned. I realized I needed human interaction to do a good job. I needed my job to have a direct impact on people. So then I started to realize I could be a coach in some type of professional format or a teacher. So now I teach and I help students develop careers and find colleges for whatever they want to do after high school.
I feel like I found my niche and my lane with DJing. I feel like God has confirmed it. People have received it and are inspired by it. People are blessed by it! A lot of it is outside of me because there is a lot that I don’t want to do, like creating playlists all the time..
I’ve definitely been blessed by it and our friendship; It’s been really inspiring to see you walking in your purpose. Last question is a fun one… do you have a question for me?
I thought this was supposed to be fun!
It’s fun for me!
This is not fun for me. I don’t have anything.
That’s the point. I want you to think about everything you just shared and ask me a question.
Do you feel like you’re walking in your purpose?
Ohh thats a good one. I think that I am starting to. I think that God shared with me some time ago what my purpose was but I was walking in fear. Today at church a friend said “The Holy Spirit shared with me that you’re really fearful.” And I said “Wow Holy Spirit why would you call me out like that.”
But she was right. I have been walking in fear. Fear of my past. Fear of what God has called me to. Fear of just a lot of things for a very very long time. And after ESF (Experiencing Spiritual Freedom, a class at church) this weekend I said “Well .. what’s the point of being scared anymore.” I just have to dive headfirst. An olympic level dive right into what God has called me into. So I know teaching is a part of it. I know that being vulnerable and sharing my heart, because my heart is the biggest part of my testimony, is a part of it. But there is still a lot that I don’t know! I don’t know how my purpose will change when I get married or when I’m one day a mother. I don’t know how that is going to look or what God is going to do with that. I would say I’m 80% walking in my purpose and I’m asking God to give me clarity on that next 20%.
Yeah I would agree with that. I know for me its been just embracing the different aspects of it. You know for me it was embracing being in front of thousands of people. Embracing the crowd and noise, being a part of that moment, and thinking about how to enhance that moment and make it better.
Just embrace what you’re a part of and just grow, let the Spirit help you grow.
I had to realize I belong on a stage. I had to embrace, realize and know that is where I belong.
You can find Jerome on IG at @djrome116. In the Nashville area and interested in booking him? Click here.