The week was busy with preparation and the air hung heavy with anticipation. Each day brought closer the culmination of a year's worth of planning. Finally, the Thursday before the festival arrived, and so did the trucks and semi loaded with crew and equipment to host a professional production with top rated bands and grammy nominated musicians.
Friday morning arrived, and the groups Apollo LTD with its #13 song "Sunday Morning Feeling" and Rhett Walker with his #4 hit "Gospel Song" began their sound checks. These groups did not disappoint. Apollo LTD, the lesser known group proved to be a great entertainer and became a surprise crowd favorite. What an awesome moment when the crowd rose to their feet and joined in singing their current hit now breaking into the top 10, "Sunday Morning Feeling". Rhett made a dramatic entrance walking on stage sillohetted by the large 28 foot wide LED screen wall. His performance drew great cheers for an encore, and was followed by a dramatic and inspiring fireworks display. The next day I was informed that we just missed getting dowsed. One person shared it rained buckets and stopped traffic a mile north and a mile east all the way to Coldwater but somehow skirted by En Gedi.
Saturday morning raised the level of excitement as campers, volunteers, and vendors were treated to a preview of the headliner Mandisa as she did her sound checks. As the gates opened, many made their way to the Tentmaker stage to enjoy some special prize giveaways and additional music options. At 2:00 attendees were treated to an intimate warm-up with the engaging solo artist Jamie Kimmett with his strong scottish accent and friendly raport. He was followed by 7eventh Time Down that revved up festival goers with hit songs like "the 99" and "God is on the Move".
Nathan Harmon presented a powerful message to encourage everyone in their personal walk with Christ by sharing his own witness to God's REVIVING work.
Colton Dixon came on stage with the threat of storms. At this point the remainder of the festival was in question. Serious discussions were being had and threshholds set for how to go forward. I continued to pray that God would part the waters just as he had in the Exodus account. As I left the back stage area, Colton high fived me and assured me that it's not going to rain. I agreed. As Colton made his way through his set, I felt one drop then another. Lightning alerts began to be issued. I did not move from in front of the stage, but I couldn't help but glance up at the sky and pray. I noticed people begin to huddle together, cover equipment, and check their cell phones. At one point Colton looked down at the production manager and received the thumbs up. Keep going. He completed his set and it began to sprinkle a little harder.
A larger pause was taken to allow the weather to clear. During this time a person approached me and warned that they had just received news that there was a torrential downpour on the way. I said, it's not going to rain. God will part the waters. She said that's fine, but you better get ready, cause it's coming. We went to Mandisa's dressing room to have her sign the guitars that were being given away. As we waited at the door we looked to the sky, and their was a break in the clouds that strangely resembled a heart. The downpour never came. The crowd enjoyed a cool misting of a light rain, they never left the field, and then the festival resumed.
Mandisa gave a nice finish to the evening. She brought a solid show that excited the crowd and reminded us that we are "Overcomers" who follow the "Waymaker" who "Keeps Hope Alive".
This was an awesom performance that even featured dancers. But the real highlight of the festival wasn't the fireworks of Friday night or dancers of Saturday. After all was done and the crowd had left the field, while the stage was being emptied and the trailer filled, the sky to the east flashed with lightning. The real story wasn't just what happened but what didn't. God showed up as an umbrella to the storm. He did part the waters. Like spray from a waterfall, the crowd enjoyed the cooling refreshment of a storm it never had to weather. God refreshed and REVIVED us. Attendees were blessed by the artists, by the crowd, by the vendors, and by several REVIVE stories but the best part was the quiet presence of God. Thank you Jesus for Your REVIVING work.