5 Days, 4 States, A Broken Bus, Countless Blessings
It was Wednesday, March 28th. We found ourselves in Yankton, SD, for the Newsboys tour where I’ve been the keynote speaker. The president of Mount Mary College, a Catholic University, brought in the tour as an inaugural event for the campus to say, “I care.” Free tickets were given away to the surrounding community. The show was sold out two weeks in advance. But the night of the show, the audience contained many people who, from my perspective, were not strong in their faith and honestly didn’t know or care who the bands were.
I started to get nervous. Because of unfamiliarity, the bands didn’t seem to connect with the audience like they usually do. I started to wonder if the talk I usually give would be relevant to them. I turned to John, my road manager, and asked if he thought it was a good idea to start my talk like I usually do, by holding up my Bible and asking “Do you believe this is still God’s word?”
“No,” he said. Pause. “I think you should do a different talk.”
“What? Now?!” I fumed. John responded, “Yeah. You should talk about Druggy Bill and Angel Bob, and share the gospel from the perspective that it doesn’t matter how good of a person you are, or how bad you are; we’re all lost without Christ.”
I looked at the time and freaked. I go on stage right after The City Harmonic performs, and they happened to be on their last song. I’d like to tell you that I reacted calmly. Instead, I threw down my notebook and stormed off, mad at John and mad at God, arguing with him… “Are you kidding me? I don’t even have notes for that talk with me! I’ve got 2 minutes to prepare. This isn’t in the plan. There’s no way!” I kept trying to convince myself that John was wrong, but it was like God grabbed hold of me and shook me by the shoulders saying, “This is what I want. Now get out there.”
I reluctantly returned to the side of the stage, my face still red with frustration. “Fine, I’ll do it,” I said to John. He smiled and checked my microphone one last time and sent me out on stage.
It was a little rough, but I could feel the Spirit of God move and bring words to my lips. We saw 200-250 hands go up to receive Christ, and at least 100 people went to the prayer room for follow up. So many people came back that we had to get more follow up materials from the bus. It turned out to be a phenomenal follow up group and a fantastic night.
The next night, on Thursday, we were in an Evangelical Free church in a little community south of Des Moines, IA, called Indianola. Although it was a small crowd, a great number of hands went up to receive Christ. But, because there weren’t any chairs, everyone had to stand, which felt a little odd. No one wanted to leave for follow up for fear of losing their spots, so what did we do? We brought the prayer counselors to them and sent them out into the crowd to make sure they connected with those who responded to the gospel.
I met a guy that night who told me the biggest problem that Indianola and the surrounding communities are facing is K-2, a synthetic form of marijuana, which I’ve been told is up to 800 times stronger than actual marijuana. This man was well-acquainted with the effects of this drug and the heartache it can bring upon families and friends. His own son tried K-2. After trying it for only the first time, he went on to commit suicide. Now, this man speaks to schools and others as much as he can about what happened. It’s a heart-breaking situation, but God has turned this tragic event into an effective ministry for him.
From Iowa, we traveled into Nebraska, to North Platte High School, where the tour was being held that evening. There, we met an extraordinary group of people from Feed My Sheep Ministries, a combination of youth pastors and a Youth for Christ Director. This prayer team marched around the school, similarly to Joshua and the walls of Jericho. They prayed for the bands, speakers, volunteers, and mostly for those who were attending the concert that night. Their prayers were answered. Of the sold out crowd of 1,500 people, 150-200 hands went up to receive Christ! After the show, teachers from the school came up to me and said they wanted to get us in schools in the area. This is what our ministry is all about – connecting with those who care about our youth and getting the good news of value, self-worth and the gospel to those who need to hear it. Overall it was another tremendous night.
Back to Iowa we went, to Spencer, a town twenty minutes away from Camp Okoboji. I attended this camp as a youth, and years later I even took my own kids there. I was even able to reconnect with some people who used to work at that camp twenty years ago. What a blast from the past. A former Life Promotions staff member, Blaine, and two of his boys and a nephew, were also there and we were able to reconnect and share great memories.
Back at the venue we had a wonderful bonding moment as I lead all the bands in communion that night. I met the event promoter, Matt Best, and realized what a small world it is. He heard me speak when he was in High School in Hudson, WI. We also worked together on the Creation Tour a few years ago. Even though he is from Minnesota, he does a lot of concerts with 89Q, a Christian radio ministry partner of Life Promotions located in Central Wisconsin. Matt also helps out with PULSE, a Minnesota-based nonprofit organization focused on developing student-led prayer and outreaches, another organization with Life Promotions has worked with.
Matt came up to me and said “Thank you for Kris.” Kris is a Life Promotions staff member who met with Matt before the event to organize follow up. “The last show we did was a lot of fun,” he said. “But very little ministry. You guys, by sending an advance team, won the churches back for me.”
Although the concert was held in a large venue, less than 1,000 people showed up, so it felt a little empty. But over 100 people committed their lives to Christ. The prayer room was full, and many Compassion kids were sponsored. What an awesome night of ministry, unity and potential outreach by the churches.
Very early Sunday morning, we found ourselves in a broken down bus on the side of the road for over two hours. We finally decided to move equipment around so the road crew could still get to the venue at the Nazarene college in Bourbonnais, IL in time to set up. We’ve been spoiled most of the tour and have had sold out crowds. But this beautiful auditorium, which seats 3,000, was only a third full. Before the concert, we arrived in time to have a cookout with Frank, another ministry partner, who has two sons who are either attending or plan to attend the Nazarene college. They told me the college is rather strict and fines any student if they dance, so it was ironic to see the Newsboys at this kind of venue. But it was so fun, and we still saw 40-50 people raise their hands to receive Christ.
I’m so happy with all the amazing things that are happening on this tour. I have to admit, though, I’m starting to feel the effects of being on the road so much. Please continue to pray for me, and my road crew, that we have the strength and endurance to finish the last leg of the tour strong. It’s been nearly three weeks since I’ve seen my family. We won’t be home again until early May. I couldn’t do this without my road crew, my team back in the office and the prayers and support of all of you who believe in our mission to share the gospel to as many people as possible.
Founder & President
Life Promotions, Inc
July 11-15, 2012 – Sunnyview Expo Center | Oshkosh, WI | www.lifest.com
Artists: Casting Crowns, Switchfoot, Newsboys, Steven Curtis Chapman, Tenth Avenue North, and 100 more!
Speakers: Reggie Dabbs, Bob Lenz, Tony Nolan, Geoff Moore, Brian Head Welch, Scott Dawson, Tiffany Thompson and more!