Thursday, June 12, 2008

Spirit West Coast, cont.

So, while I was at SWC, it was more than just concerts and altar calls. When we got there, they gave us our room assignments (my roommate being the same roommate I've had since August, interestingly enough). Later, they put us in groups (all three guys from ASU were in the same group, as well as a U of A dude).

Our group, undeniable the dorkiest, decided to name ourselves SG-1, because it was civilian (or collegiate) Navs working together with military Navs, just like in Stargate (although our group was the only group that was all collegiate). And, because we were SG-1, each of us was a different member of SG-1 (if you don't know anything about Stargate: SG-1, you should probably just skip this paragraph, cuz it won't make sense). I, being the only black member of SG-1, was Teal'c. Our fearless leader, Chris, was General Hammond. David, by far the dorkiest in our group, was appropriately Dr. Daniel Jackson. Scott, the only member of SG-1 without facial hair, was Sam Carter (something which he argued against all week). And, because he was left, Bryce (the youngest member of SG-1) was Col. Jack O'Neill (the second oldest member of SG-1, next to Hammond).

So, yeah, the week before the weekend concerts started, we worked. We filled bags with dirt, put CO2 tanks on the main stage, set up lights in various tents (I have a cool wound from a rusty nail, if you wanna see it), move tents, and a lot of other stuff. There were some people who were only there for the weekend who, because they couldn't help out throughout the week, cleaned up on Friday night after the Newsboys concert. If you've never been to a Newsboys concert, or have never heard the song "Breakfast," or have never heard of the Newsboys, their most popular song is called "Breakfast." The chorus to that song is: "When the toast is burned and all the milk has turned and Cap'n Crunch is waving farewell, when the big one finds you, may this song remind you that they don't serve breakfast in hell." Well, it's become tradition for people to bring and throw Cap'n Crunch during that song. That's what the Weekenders had to clean up. On top of that, it was raining, so there was a nice Cap'n Crunch paste on the ground. I was glad I wasn't one of them.

Anyway, we had a lot of fun, playing hacky-sack and Wah on our off time, getting to know each other. The meals were top of the line. The bathrooms, on the other hand, caused small problems. They were community bathrooms, with 2 sinks, 2 toilet stalls, and 2 showers. This was no problem until the concert attenders showed up. There were two men's bathrooms and two women's, but once the campers arrived, the sign that read "Men Only" was torn down, revealing a sign that indicated that the bathroom was for women. I'm glad I saw that the sign was gone before I just walked in there. There was at least one of us Navigators who was not as fortunate. Yeah. Awkward. Anyway, the problem was remedied with a new sign that said "Don't remove this one, fool!" or something like that.

Besides the work, play, and awkwardness, we had workshops and activities. We had a talk on women and men working together in ministry, and how that should look. We discussed what the world says the Bible says about military force, and then looked at what the Bible actually says. We conversed about staying sexually pure in the X-Rated society in which we live. And we spoke about shame-based vs. guilt-based societies, and how to share the gospel in those contexts (I still don't quite understand that one). We had many other talks, like making Christ the center, and we did a LOT of Scripture memory. They wanted us to pretty much do a verse a day and that was not happening, although I memorized more than I thought I did. Two of the memory verses were Philippians 4:6-7, which I got to use while sharing the gospel the next week. I'll go into more detail in another post.

Speaking of which, another thing we did was go to the beach and share the gospel around there. That was a pretty good time, although no one that my group of three talked to was responsive. It could've been worse; we could've been told to drop Christianity, take some drugs, and find some girls, like another group was told. Needless to say some people just aren't responsive to the gospel.

Well, I'd love to go into more detail about inside jokes and racist room numbers, but this is running a bit on the long side. So, if you wanna know, just ask. And keep reading. TTFN!

Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV)
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Spirit West Coast

So, I was in California for the past 3 weeks, and now I'm back in Phoenix. There were a lot of things going on in the past weeks, and if anyone reading this is like me, they won't read a long post, so I'm gonna break it up.

Anyway, the first week in California was spent at the San Diego Fairgrounds in Del Mar for the Christian music festival called Spirit West Coast. The concerts were Friday through Saturday, and I (and a ton of other people) set up a bunch of stuff the week before they started. Once the concerts started, we had a looser schedule and got to see them, unless we were working the altar calls.

So, basically, the weekend schedule was "These are the altar calls you're working, these are the altar call training times, and these are the meal times." So I got to see a few concerts, like Skillet (which was, by far, my favorite), Third Day (second favorite), and Newsboys. Tobymac was at the same time as Skillet, and it wasn't a hard choice to decide which I was going to see. Thousand Foot Krutch was the same time as Third Day. That was a tougher choice, but after the Seventh Day Slumber altar call, I needed Third Day more than TFK; they're happier music, and I love Mac Powel's voice. Pillar and Newsboys was the same time, and I don't know many Pillar songs, so that was, again, easier to choose.

Anyway, for altar calls, the speaker would ask who in the audience wanted to give their life to Jesus or recommit their lives to Him, and my job was to find the people who raise their hands, give them literature, get there information, and, most importantly, talk to them about Jesus and how to come to Him. I did this for Disciple (who were really good, but I definitely needed earplugs), Dizmas (who I didn't pay as much attention to, but everyone else seemed to really enjoy), Strongman Jon Pritikin (who broke bricks with his forearms and bent bars with his mouth for kids), and Seventh Day Slumber.

Seventh Day Slumber has a unique altar call. It's well known as a very difficult one. It's often given the name "The Suicide Altar Call." The lead singer of Seventh Day Slumber, Joseph Rojas, tells of a time when he was low, and almost took his own life with cocaine. On the way to the hospital, Joseph came to Jesus, after his mother constantly telling him that he needed Him. He was 22 when this happened. Joseph shares this story to the crowd at their concert, and asks the whole crowd to back up. For this concert, the people seeking Jesus come to the front and find us. It was amazing and sad. He asked who had considered suicide within the past week. Loads of hands shot up. He asked who intended to commit suicide as soon as they got back from Spirit West Coast. Still, many hands shot up. He asked who wanted to give their pain to Jesus instead of trying to end it alone. It really got me when I saw a couple in the front raise their hands for people who wanted to end their lives, but not for people who wanted Jesus. I don't know what happened to them, but we did have people go and talk to them. There were tons of other people, though, who did want to give their lives to Christ, and it was overwhelming. One rule for altar calls was that we should avoid talking to people of the opposite sex as much as possible. This was extremely difficult, because most of those who wanted to commit suicide were female. It was so difficult finding people who weren't already being helped and prayed with and prayed for. I didn't get to actually talk to anybody, because it was such a mess. But it was still amazing seeing God working through the testimony of Joseph, convicting people of their sin and drawing them closer to Him. People would come in groups of three, one to give his life to Jesus, two to pray with him and encourage him. It was so sweet seeing the love and companionship. I would go back again, just to experience the power of God once more.

The most frustrating thing about it was that TFK was on after them, so we couldn't sit and talk with the people, like what happened in previous years when Seventh Day Slumber was the last band. There were people coming up who wanted to get saved, but were intermingled with people coming up to listen to Thousand Foot Krutch and get free merch. Nevertheless, I know God was glorified in this and will continue to be glorified.