A music video poking gentle fun at self-righteous Christians has landed three University of Mobile students on The American Bible Challenge, a game show beginning its third season May 22.
Worship Leadership majors Seth Brasher, Harrison Hughes and Kory Van Matre made a video for fun in February 2013. Titled “Thrift Shop – Christian Remix,” the YouTube video is a redone version of the popular rap song “Thrift Shop” by the artists Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. But instead of the original raunchy lyrics, the UMobile trio used the catchy beat to make a point that strikes a chord with Christian youth groups across the country.
“We’re making fun of Christians who boast about their good deeds instead of living out a life of faith,” explained Hughes, whose academic concentration in film was key to producing the video. With the tag line, “I’m an awesome Christian,” the video takes a tongue-in-cheek look at some of the more pretentiously pious ways people spotlight their good deeds.
Fast-forward a year later and the video has had over 868,000 views, including one by a casting agent for comedian Jeff Foxworthy’s Game Show Network (GSN) hit “The American Bible Challenge.” The Los Angeles-based agent tracked Brasher down through Facebook, and called his cell phone.The students were asked to audition for season three of the show.
The show’s producers had an image in mind for the students - part Jonas Brothers, part cool college kids. The producers chose “Rhymz with Grace as their group name.” The name played off the group’s rap video, Harrison said, meaning that the students were able to make compelling rhymes by God’s grace.
As one of 18 teams competing this season, Rhymz with Grace would be playing to win money for a charity. They chose Home of Grace for Women, a Christ-centered alcohol and drug recovery program in Eight Mile, Alabama. The students flew Los Angeles for a week-long experience that pitted them against other teams, most of which included pastors or other older, learned members.
“We were the epitome of the underdogs. We were the youngest team – the oldest of us was 21. Everybody else had a pastor on their team,” said Brasher. As a three-time Bible drill champion in his youth, Brasher was the “Bible guru” of the team. Other teams included former beauty queens, motorcycle-riding priests, police officers and Mormon moms, according to the network.
The impact goes beyond appearing as contestants on a game show, the students said. “We don’t see this as a game. It’s an opportunity, first and foremost, to share the Gospel, and secondly to provide for those ladies at the Home of Grace in a way we never could if not for the show,” Brasher said. “We have a mission, and it’s nothing to do with the game show and everything to do with Jesus Christ.”
With Jeff Foxworthy as host of the one-hour game show, contestants compete based on their knowledge of the Bible. Season three premieres with two back-to-back original episodes on Thursday, May 22 at 7 p.m. (Central) and will air new episodes every Thursday. The UMobile team is scheduled to make an appearance in the June 5 episode.
To watch their Christian rap video, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30vyrdhiwwQ or search “Thrift Shop – Christian Remix” on YouTube.