Feb 2, 2024 - News

"Philly Jesus" is back as a Lyft driver preaching while driving

Michael Grant AKA "Philly Jesus" standing in front of his Acura.

"Philly Jesus" has resurrected his public ministry. Photo: Courtesy of Michael Grant

After years away from the spotlight, "Philly Jesus" has made a glorious return to the streets as a chauffeuring clergy member (read: Lyft driver).

What's happening: Wearing a white robe and carrying a cross or staff, Michael Grant was once a fixture at LOVE Park, where he spent years proselytizing to passersby dressed as Philly Jesus.

  • He tells Axios he took time away from his street ministry to cope with a divorce and the loss of his father and grandmother.

The intrigue: His return has Philly curious: WWJD — What Would Jesus Drive?

  • The answer: A 2009 Acura, or as Grant calls it, his "church on wheels."
  • There's a Bible on the dashboard and soothing Gospel music humming through the speakers.
  • Before he starts driving, he lets passengers know that, "Jesus is taking the wheel."

Flashback: Grant attended Catholic school for most of his life and had a "rebellious" streak as a teenager that got him introduced to marijuana.

  • He got kicked out of private high school and then graduated from Northeast Preparatory School, but got hooked on painkillers while recovering from getting run over by a car. He then turned to heroin and got in trouble with the law.
  • Grant had a come-to-Jesus moment when a judge ordered him to rehab for violating probation.

What they're saying: While in rehab, he prayed for guidance and began attending bible study. Grant says it was the best decision of his life.

  • "I felt like liquid love, like a holy fire melting away all my stress, all my anxiety," Grant said. "I used to be addicted to drugs, but now I'm addicted to Jesus."

In 2014, he hit the streets in a white robe and began spreading the word of Christ. Many Philadelphians embraced him, posing for pictures and donating to help cover his living expenses.

Yes, but: Not everyone was receptive. Grant had a few well-documented arrests, including for trespassing at the Apple Store in Center City.

  • He was sometimes mocked, told he was acting blasphemous, was beat up and once, robbed at gunpoint while preaching.

Reality check: Grant admits he needed to ground himself and chart a more realistic path forward, including possibly finishing a recording engineering degree, after the initial attention he received got to his head.

The bottom line: The man who once priestly pounded the pavement has evolved into the vicar in a vehicle.

  • "Jesus was a carpenter. So I'm a Lyft driver," he said. "God is still working on me."
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