Reaching 'The Generation' in Ottawa
Youth Pastor's Vision of Rock the River Comes to Fruition
September 19, 2012 - Years after first hearing about the BGEA's evangelistic music festival outreach, youth pastor Colleen Noble — who has a heart to reach young people in "all walks of life," — simply couldn't believe it when she heard Rock the River was coming to Ottawa: "Everything inside me jumped."
"I just see that there's so many young people in this city who need to have that encounter with Christ." — Colleen Noble
By Trevor Freeze
The clock read somewhere between 1 and 2 a.m. — Colleen Noble just remembers it was late — and she was aimlessly flipping through TV channels.
Looking for anything to grab her.
For a night owl, this wasn't all that unusual, but the program she landed on was not what she was expecting.
This was Rock the River, a high-energy, music-infused evangelistic outreach event, like she had never witnessed.
And she was instantly hooked.
The TV special produced by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association had more than caught her attention. It planted a passion in her heart.
"I'm watching it and I was like 'Oh my gosh, this is amazing,' " Noble said. "I was floored. I thought this is it. This needs to happen here."
It's been several years since that random Rock the River encounter with her remote, but the passion was planted in her heart for Rock the River to come "here," which in Noble's world is Ottawa, Canada.
"When I saw Franklin Graham speaking, I thought they have to come here," her voice grew to a higher pitch. "I want to be a part of this. This is the heart that God put in me for this generation."
Noble started praying for Rock the River to somehow make its way to Ottawa and one day someone in her church told Noble they had received a letter in the mail and that Rock the River was — indeed — coming "here."
"I said 'What?!?' " Noble relived the moment. "Everything inside me jumped.
"We've been praying to God for strategies for open doors, for the salvation of young people. I said 'Thank You God for bringing this here.' "
'I See Huge Things'
Noble's story isn't quite as neat and clean as the answer to her Rock the River prayer. She was far from God in her youth when He used a teen pregnancy to grab ahold of her heart.
But shortly after her son was born, she wrote a play, using the scriptures as her guide, called "The Crucifixion," which has become an Ottawa Easter tradition, attracting thousands for the past 25 years.
She's now a member of the pastoral team at Living Waters Christian Assembly, and leads a youth-infused movement called Revolution 457 that is all about reaching youth, by any and every means necessary.
"I just see that there's so many young people in this city who need to have that encounter with Christ," Noble said.
What excites Noble the most is how the youth that have been already touched in some way by Revolution 457 are getting involved in Rock the River.
Whether it's the "Underground Youth," who are far from God and have just been checking out their club-style outreach events, or the committed youth who are busy inviting all their friends, Noble can hardly wait for Sept. 29 and 30 at Britannia Park in downtown Ottawa.
"We have all walks of life really," she said. "We have people in the underground scene, kids dealing with suicidal thoughts or depression. And we have kids that are regular awesome kids that are doing great that are using their lives to impact the world."
And when she thinks about the far-reaching impact Rock the River may have on the youth of Canada's political capital, she can hardly finish her sentence.
"Oh I'm stoked," she said. "I see huge things that are going to happen."
Dave Ingram, the Rock the River Ottawa director, says that excitement is not put-on. That's just who Noble is.
"She's pumped up," Ingram said. "She's very passionate about the Lord. She's sold out. She came in and spoke to the leadership team and it was a very powerful moment."
And many are praying for that powerful moment when Franklin Graham gives the invitation to accept Christ.
"That's what I love about Rock the River," Noble said. "It's the same heart as the heart of God.
"It's about the bands, but it's really about the message that's going to come forward."
Musical performers on Saturday, including Canada's own Thousand Foot Krutch, The Afters, The Almost, Flame and Lacey Sturm from Flyleaf. On Sunday, Michael W. Smith will cap off a jammed-packed lineup including Canton Jones, Sebastian Demrey, L'Angelus, Canada's Matt Maher as well as The Afters and Lacey, both for a second appearance.
"Rock the River is so great because it's wide open and anyone can attend," Noble said. "I expect to see a lot of young people who are going to get saved and start that relationship with Christ which is the most needed thing in this generation today."
Can't make it to Canada? Rock the River Ottawa will be streaming live on Sept. 29 and 30, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Follow on Facebook and Twitter. Or sign up to be a prayer partner here. And don't miss Rock the Lakes Buffalo Sept. 22-23 streaming live here.