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Giving the church a good rap

Tech Sgt. Lesley Thomas, a member of the 137 Air Refueling Wing's Finance Office, poses with his rap group's latest CD, "Church Shaka," by Mobsters of Light.  Sgt. Thomas says MOL performs across the country in churches, concerts, alternative schools and juvenile centers.

Tech Sgt. Lesley Thomas, a member of the 137 Air Refueling Wing's Finance Office, poses with his rap group's latest CD, "Church Shaka," by Mobsters of Light. Sgt. Thomas says MOL performs across the country in churches, concerts, alternative schools and juvenile centers.

WILL ROGERS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Okla. -- Combining military duty with a civilian job can be a balancing act, but throw in parenthood, church leadership and rapping and life is never boring for Technical Sgt. Lesley Thomas, a travel pay technician for the 137 Air Refueling Wing.
Thomas produces the music for the rap group Mobsters of Light, along with performing and writing lyrics. "My music comes from my personal relationship with God and utilizing the gifts and talents that he's given me," Sergeant Thomas said.
Growing up in a family passionate about music, he was exposed and participated in many areas of music. "I have played the drums, strings and piano my whole life and I rap, but definitely cannot sing," laughed Sergeant Thomas.
Mobsters of Light began in 2004 and the original six members of the group remain. Recognized as national recording artists in 2006 for their album "Church Shaka", MOL performs across the United States at churches, concerts, alternative schools and juvenile centers.
"With youth in today's society, 'Amazing Grace' is not as effective now as it was 50 years ago," he said. "Hip-hop has taken over and has been a negative influence on our youth. We take hip-hop and use it as a positive influence."
Besides impacting his own children, Les, 11, and Leilah, 8, Sergeant Thomas and his wife, Mary, lead the youth group at Integrity's Voice of Victory Church in Oklahoma City.
His passion for youth comes from his own past. "I had normal problems that an inner city kid faces. Now I can use those experiences to help others that may be in a similar situation," Sergeant Thomas shares. The songs address topics such as encouragement, holiness, faith, breaking religious stereotypes, how to overcome, and choosing to make it through tough times.
"The most rewarding experience is when someone comes up to you and tells you that you've given them hope for someone else with a hard past," Sergeant Thomas beamed, recalling several situations where parents and spouses shared their admiration of the example that he is to others.
MOL will release a new album named "Make it Rain" this fall. Visit www.myspace.com/mobstersoflight for more information.