While the threat of rain had some worried about low turnout for Saturday’s Rock the Lakes event, guests arrived in droves with hundreds of young people standing on the ground in front of the stage, happily staying dry until the very end and rocking out to several high-energy performances.
Saturday’s lineup included performances from Marcus G., Dennis Agajanian, Flame, Tedashii, Lacey from Flyleaf, Building 429 and Skillet, who wrapped up the night with fire, smoke, violin players and a drummer on risers. As the saying goes, the crowd went wild.
Those closest to the stage swayed to the music, pumped their fists in the air, jumped up and down, and sang along throughout the evening. The crowd bounced large yellow beach balls back and forth during Building 429’s performance, enthusiasm high and shouts getting louder.
Guests Sean and Corinn arrived an hour early to get a spot right up front. One counselor, JoAnn, watched for members of her church to arrive; more than 50 members and their friends planned to attend.
JoAnn attends Niagara Frontier Bible Church in Lewiston and said her church was involved in Billy Graham’s Crusade at the same spot in 1988. She now has a 12-year-old who listens to Flame, one of Saturday’s performers. She said she hopes the young people who attended realize that “the lures and pleasures of the world will not satisfy them.” That’s something only Christ can do, and even the performers made that clear.
Saturday’s event also included a guitar contest with renowned guitarist Dennis Agajanian and four local young men who showcased their talent onstage. Two other teenagers – Michael, 15, and Taylor, 18, both of Lackawanna, N.Y. – were there to see Skillet. Taylor heard about Rock the Lakes from Michael, and Michael heard about it through a friend at school.
“I heard ‘free concert’ and I was like, ‘OK, I’ll go,'” Taylor said.
The music might have kept people at the event despite cold wind later in the evening, but as Lacey Sturm said, there’s something even greater people could take away — a relationship with Jesus Christ.
“I’m not here as Lacey from Flyleaf,” she said onstage. “I’m here as Lacey, just a regular girl who got rescued from suicide at age 16.”
Lacey told the crowd about her troubled past, about giving her life to Christ at age 10 but giving up on Him when her cousin was beaten to death by his step-dad that same year. She told them about being bullied in school for wearing her brother’s old clothes, something that wasn’t cool “’til Nirvana came out.”
“I was an atheist who hated Christians. I hated the idea of God. I hated church people,” she said. She was “addicted to being sad,” crying herself to sleep at night for six years. She was miserable. She thought she was worthless. She was drained.
“That’s what sin does to you,” she said.
Lacey contemplated suicide, but the night she was supposed to go through with it, her grandmother could tell something was wrong and “wouldn’t shut up” about taking Lacey to church. She went so her grandmother would stop talking about it and encountered a man who told her God loved her and spoke to her exact situation.
“The God of the universe showed up,” she said. She told the crowd that God loves each person there, and He has a purpose for everyone. Now she wakes up every day saying, “What do you want to do with me today?”
The crowd listened quietly while Lacey spoke, some identifying with her and some in tears as Lacey sang, “Thank you for never giving up on me.” Then she introduced Franklin Graham.
“Tonight, you can be changed,” Graham said. He gave an invitation for people to accept Christ, and dozens came – from way up in the bleachers to the front row on the ground.
Adah, a trained counselor, led a couple and all five of their children to the Lord. Fellow counselor Marie led a woman to Christ with the woman’s friend close by in tears.
“I’ve never done anything like this before,” Marie said, but felt called to do more to share Christ with her city.
Another counselor, Pamela, had the chance to lead a young Chinese woman to Christ. Her two friends stood nearby, smiling.
“That really blessed me,” Pamela said. The woman asked questions about Christ, then asked how she could worship and serve.
Help Us Bring the Gospel to a Hurting Generation
Youth are starved for the hope of the Gospel. You can help bring them the love of Christ by donating to Rock the Lakes.