Joshua's Troop
Peeking Behind the Battle Lines

Darnell Nolin Jr.Darnell Nolin Jr. has served as on air personality with WURC 88.1 FM, and is currently Administrative Assistant for Joshua's Troop, the Chicago youth choir newly signed to Tyscot who have just released their self-titled debut project (see album review). He is also the nephew of Rev. Clay Evans. Nolin speaks his heart about the youth ministry, their history and their vision.

As we go further and deeper into this new millennium, we continue to see new artists bringing and delivering the Gospel to the masses. What gets people's attention —saved and sinner alike— is the vehicle used by the deliverer.

That is no exception with the new kids on the block —Joshua's Troop.

Joshua's Troop came together about three years ago, as a result of a vision birthed by the founder of the African American Religious Connection (AARC), Pastor Clay Evans. His vision was to have a division of the AARC convention that catered to the youth and young adults between 12 and 30 years of age.

Rodney of Joshuas Troop God gives provision to any vision that is ordained by Him, and this was no exception.

Pastor Evans met with Pastor Charles Jenkins, who planned not only to head the youth and young adult division, but also to take it to another level. Pastor Jenkins (who also became Pastor Evan's successor as the Pastor at Fellowship Methodist Baptist Church of Chicago, Illinois) did just that.

And that leads to the story behind the group's rather unusual name. During the time of Pastor Evan's retirement and Pastor Jenkins inauguration, the two were often referred to as Moses and Joshua.

Rev. Charles Jenkins with Percy GrayThe name Joshua stuck to Pastor Jenkins, and so we, the choir, became his troops —Joshua's Troop. We take everything from the enemies camp at any cost.

Pastor Jenkins also saw a need as well for a youth and young adult music ministry that would be separate from the AARC Mass Choir, who were known for their "I Got A Testimony" release, as well as their current chart-buster, "Constantly".

After much prayer from Pastor Jenkins. God provided the Minister of Music to be over these Troops; the multi-talented producer, Percy Gray, Jr.

Percy along with his brother Jeral Gray (a.k.a. GrayBoy), have taken the choir to higher heights.

The connection that the three leaders, Pastor Jenkins, Percy Gray and Jeral Gray have with the choir is a unique one. I think it has to do with a combination of being young, young at heart and a heart for youth and young adults. The fellowship is great, and we have a testimony to prove it.

Percy GrayRecently we went to Charlotte, NC for a video shoot, a trip that usually takes 13 to 14 hours. However, due to the driver taking circuitous route and due to the weather, the trip took on an extra five hours. And we're still here!

If you ever come to a rehearsal early, or check in after rehearsal is over, you will see the group and the leaders clowning and joking. However, when Joshua or his Generals (the Gray Boys) give orders, you better believe that the Troops get to moving.

Even though the group is a young bunch, and we have a lot of fun. We try to stay grounded and rooted in the ministry aspect of this —sending a message that saves the lost and edifies the saved.

That's why every song on the project brings a message. Beyond the groove or the beat, every song has the ability to meet you where you are, whether you're young or old. That's why the group is eager to get the message out there. The Word instructs us to go into all the nations.

Jeral Gray Jr.On this project, you really find something for everyone; there's a mixture of church, praise and worship, ballads, and grooves.

Now, the amazing part about the project having something for everyone, is that the Troops deliver on every song on the CD, as well as live. During a recent taping, we did about eight songs off the project.

It was tripped out because we grooved out of this world on "Deep Love", penned by Pastor Charles Jenkins. Then we did "Trust Him" where we went straight church with our little evangelist on lead, Donishisa Hunter, who delivers every time.

By this time, we are rocking and tapping while trying to stay professional and finish the taping, which was real hard with Curtis "Busta" Brown moaning and tuning like a preacher. By the time we got to our last song for the taping, "Jesus" (penned by Sharay Reed, one of the most awesome bass player I know, and featuring Rev. Jenkins speaking with lead by Natasha Robinson), we were ready to explode!

This is typical anytime we are ministering, and yes even in rehearsals. As a whole, we are excited about the project, and about having our Gospel message taking the world by storm.

We are ready to join our fellow soldiers of the Gospel. So clear the trenches and paths for we are on the battlefield!

Photos from a Joshua's Troop rehearsal are provided below.

Joshuas Troop

Joshuas Troop

Joshuas Troop

Joshuas Troop

Joshuas Troop

interview compiled by Stan North

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