Dewayne Rembert was in his late teens when he remembers the feel of his first shower. As the water hit the back of his neck, he didn’t know what he had been missing. He grew up without a lot. Some nights, starting in his early teens, there was no food – not even a can of beans. While he says his family provided the basic necessities, “you just didn’t know you were poor. You just got used to it. Once I ate lunch at school, I knew I wouldn’t eat until breakfast the next day.
“That was the story of most of us around. Even though I didn’t have a lot, my grandmother was awesome. However, when her memory began to fade, we started going without.”
Growing up, there was the norm of poverty that included drugs and violence. Despite that, Dewayne was surrounded by strong women and a love of basketball. Still, with the absence of a strong male presence for him, he fell into the ways of the streets.
So, when Rembert reaches youth and young adults in urban neighborhoods through Flatline Movement – through hip-hop music, Bible studies, and worship – he does so with knowledge. While every story and situation is different, his outreach comes from lived experience.
“Flatline” derives from Romans 6:11 – “So you too, consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Jesus Christ.”
“It’s a theme throughout the Bible,” Rembert said. “It’s about dying to self and living through Christ alone. I know what it’s like to be a lost young person. The hopelessness, the anger. And I know how Jesus changed all that. The foundation is Jesus.
“One time in high school, a friend and I were in the hallway. An administrator started talking to my friend about college paperwork. He skipped over me, and then talked to another friend of mine about the military. In his mind, I wasn’t going to amount to anything. If I didn’t have food in the house, how was I going to go to college?”
Rembert is the lead pastor of Flatline Church at Chisholm. He founded Flatline Movement, and with a team, organizes school assemblies, block parties, and concerts throughout the River Region.
Flatline Movement engages the culture through the arts for the cause of Christ – and a way Rembert reaches into the community to engage others from all walks of life with the Gospel through hip-hop music. It is a mission and vision Rembert has had since its inception in the mid-2010s, producing disciples that make disciples.
“Hip hop is only 50 years old,” Rembert said. “We want anyone from 50 years old to 1. Our youngest artist is 16 years old – he graduated high school at age 15. I came from the hip hop culture. I like Christian hip hop. I need somebody who is mature and talking about marriage and obedience for me as an older hip hop head.
“We are also starting an afterschool program called ‘Flatline Music Initiative.’ It’s a three-month program. Eventually, we want to teach others the origin of rap, how to write music that will uplift the listeners and eventually allow the students to go into the lab or studio and record their own song.”
One dream of Rembert’s is to produce an all-day Christian rap radio station, and more Flatline chapters around the world.
“In every city, you have Christian rappers, but they have to be discovered,” he said. “Flatline has a platform. We’re respected in that arena right now. We’re getting ready to release 30 more songs in the next 90 days.”
The Flatline Movement began when Rembert left his job in the hotel business. During his time as a general manager with an area hotel chain, he was also leading 6 a.m. Bible studies at Lanier. Also, Carver and Jeff Davis coaches allowed him to speak to their players after practice, which led to Bible studies around the city and at his home.
“The coaches and the principals were asking me throughout the day to talk to different students,” he said. “I couldn’t operate a $13 million hotel plus run to schools and talk to people. These included kids who were caught with drugs on them. On my way back to my truck, I couldn’t celebrate this child giving his life to Christ because I had just missed work for two hours.”
I knew God was saying either let the hotel job go, or stop going to the schools. I know what it’s like to live as a lost young person and my heart will always be for young people.”
In the corporate world, Rembert was doing well financially, having just doubled his salary.
But his calling was elsewhere. “I’d rather obey the Lord,” he said. “And I had to come home and tell my wife.
All I knew was that I had to help fatherless African American boys. At first, I was just doing Bible studies before school and after football practices.”
Then, the Montgomery Baptist Association offered him a position as a church planting strategist. He said, “I didn’t feel I fit that. I knew I was an urban Christian guy, which helped me engage with the students. I didn’t accept the position immediately, but know it was the best move ever.”
About a year in, in 2017, he told his wife Leslie that God wanted him to start a church. While she knew it was his calling, she also told him he wasn’t ready yet. Based on his calling, Rembert said Strong Tower at Washington Park was the best fit for him.
There for 18 months, he was Strong Tower’s first youth pastor and developed their youth program. He also serves as chaplain of Lee High School’s football team.
Now in its fourth year, Rembert pastors Flatline Church at Chisholm. He has been saved for 20 years and understands that when neglect is present in a person’s life, “you can go ahead and look for rebellion. When the natural dad steps out of the house and the Christian men don’t step up, it’s guaranteed to be a disaster.”
Rembert said he did “all kinds of stuff. Breaking into houses, stealing from stores, just trying to fit in. I was looking for family and acceptance. At the time, I wasn’t getting it at home because my grandmother was at the beginning stages of dementia. I had nobody. The county gangs aren’t like the inner city gangs. But even in our small gang, we did petty crimes.”
Dewayne had nobody, he said, except for a cousin, who worked to keep him off the street corner. Who brought him to Montgomery and enrolled him at Troy State University Montgomery. From there, his future began
Throughout his ministry, beginning in 2004, Rembert has been part of an estimated 5,000 professions of faith from middle and high school students. He speaks at block parties, concerts, D-NOW weekends, and school assemblies across the nation, including in Alabama, Texas, Florida, and Virginia.
“I was successful in business before I was saved,” Rembert said. “I had popularity, money, and cars. But Jesus was the missing part of that puzzle. I’m an exception to the rule; I’m not the rule. I have friends who have gotten caught up in the judicial system. Some made it out and some didn’t. It used to baffle me why I didn’t get caught. I did the same thing. It was the grace of God. I pray that I will be one of His many vessels to spread His message and example of hope to all.”
Kym Klass is a contributing writer and Communications Director of the Media Ministry at Frazer Church in Montgomery.