Renowned hip-hop and electronic artist M.I.A. continues to open up about her conversion to faith in Jesus.

Raised by an atheist father and a Christian mother (who came to faith in the UK), M.I.A, whose real name is Mathangi Arulpragasam, was not interested in Christianity for most of her life, she told Relevant.

But her conversion suddenly happened in 2016 after a vision. “It wasn’t a dream, it wasn’t hallucination,” she explains. “I couldn’t believe that’s what was happening. I just couldn’t believe it was real. I didn’t believe Jesus was real. I always thought he was made up, or not even made up, but I just always thought it was a silly story.”

She admits she is still in a process to “understand the concept of Tamil within Christianity has been an interesting thing that’s taken me five years to process,” she tells Relevant.

The artist (who is also a filmmaker and designer) is known for her social activism, including her work to give visibility to the ongoing refugees crisis. The fact that her family had to leave Sri Lanka when she was 11 years old brought her to write her most famous song, “Paper Planes.”

Now, “with a Christian outlook, I want things to be more simplified and clear,” she explains referring to her latest album, Mata (2022). “The more I understand the complexities of the world, the simpler I find things really are,” she says. “And funny enough, Christianity is very simple.”

“I’m not going to become a pastor or preacher,” she adds, because her desire is to “carry on making work.”

But despite the criticism she has received from many for talking about her new faith, M.I.A does not hide her story. “In my time of need, the God that turned up to save me was not Shiva. It was Jesus,” she says. “That is the truth, and I have to say that.” 

A renowned artist worldwide

M.I.A has released five albums and became the first South Asian person to be nominated for an Academy Award and a Grammy Award the same year. Among other awards, she was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 2019 for her services to music. Magazines like Time and Esquire have mentioned her as an influential voice in the arts industry in the last decade


This story originally appeared at Evangelical Focus and is republished here with permission.