When You Just Can't Keep it Together
Written by Zach Blickens of White Ribbon Day:
“Hey man, check this out!”
My friend Josh Brewer shook my hand and pulled me in for a hug. Josh is built like a Division One running back, so it was a bit like hugging a wall. With arms.
“Seriously,” he broke away excitedly, “so we had this meeting with a bunch of the churches in the city last night and it was AWESOME – apparently like thirty years ago they used to have tent revival meetings here every year, and they see this festival as an answer to prayer – like it might be God’s way of reaching the city again for Jesus.”
“Wow…” I wiped the sweat from my eyes and genuinely felt something stir inside me.
“And listen to this – one awesome older lady said that they UNDERSTOOD that the music would be different from what they were used to, but they wanted to do whatever they could to reach the next generation…”
I caught his excitement. There is something crucial and powerful about the generations coming together, and I felt the power in what he was sharing.
On a practical level, though, I was acutely aware that it was already pushing 100° F at 11 AM and only getting hotter. We were hoping to fill a large, sun-scorched park in a few hours and that in itself was going to take a miracle.
We were getting ready to launch a ‘Lifelight’ Festival in Story City, Iowa in the hottest part of the summer. Josh and his team (with the help of his father-in-law, Alan Greene, a gifted international evangelist) had done a comprehensive job setting up the event – meeting with local pastors, promoting the event in the city, securing high-end sound and lighting, and wrangling up some amazing bands.
Josh is a powerful communicator with an incredible story of personal redemption, and I knew that anyone who chose to brave the strength-sapping Midwestern heat later in the day would definitely hear a clear and loving presentation of the message of Jesus.
…IF anyone chose to brave the heat.
I pulled my shirt away from my chest where the perspiration was making it stick and wiped my forehead again, this time with my right forearm.
We really were going to have to pray for a miracle.
And so we did.
Several hours later we took the stage. It was later in the afternoon and with the lowering sun in our faces, it was still ridiculously hot, but I was stunned by how many people had already chosen to take the field – in lawn chairs and on their feet, people were clumped into the shade of the large trees scattered throughout the park, and a crowd of die-hard fans was gathering steadily to sweat defiantly in the front.
Brutally hot? Yes.
Really fun? Yes, that too.
We performed, I shared a little, other bands played, and shortly afterwards Josh took the stage.
Standing in the crowd in a perspiration-soaked black t-shirt and skinny jeans, I watched him share the truth about the incredible love of Jesus – about His gift of forgiveness and freedom – and then give an opportunity to respond.
And across the field, people began to move toward the prayer tent – alone and in groups. I watched as friends took each other by the hand and helped each other take the often terrifying first step forward.
And at the tent, I watched volunteers – many of them from the older generation – begin to embrace the newcomers, talking with them, crying together, and welcoming them into the family.
Watching this, I turned and met the eyes of a friend, and moved towards him.
“Hey man, this really is…” and my eyes welled up, “this really is why we do it.”
He looked at me for a moment, and then his eyes filled too, and we just stood for a minute and sort of nodded at each other. With tears.
Toward the end of the evening, a particularly brave little girl ran up to me with a woman in tow.
I knelt down and smiled.
“I just got baptized!”
I looked up at the woman who was with her and raised my eyebrows.
“Yeah,” she smiled, “we just found a stream and a bunch of us got baptized – she really wanted to tell you.”
“Well…” I looked back at the little girl, “That is just SO awesome – that makes me so happy to hear.”
And once again, my eyes welled up.
Because this is why we do what we do.
We are BEYOND grateful for the opportunity to watch Jesus transform lives around the world, and we love watching the power that is released when different generations – and also different ethnic and social groups – partner together to reach the world with the love of Jesus. It’s a picture of unity that can only fully exist in Jesus.
It’s a picture of the kingdom of God.
And it results in redeemed and transformed lives.
We’ve watched God transform tens of thousands of lives in 27 nations over the last six years – we’ve seen Him use music to open incredible doors, and we’re more convinced than ever that Jesus’ love can change the world.
It’s been three years and 17 nations since our last CD, LOVE IS WIDE – we’ve translated the music into 20+ languages and watched God use it in incredible ways. And now… it’s time.
We’re heading back into the studio with music that we can’t WAIT to share with you. We’ve chosen to fund the project using a crowdfunding platform called “IndieGogo” because we love the way this type of fundraising brings people together and lets us all be a part of something bigger than ourselves, and we need YOUR help to get the music and the message out.