Jason* wasn’t happy about working on Father’s Day. The 34-year-old security guard had four children—ages 12, 9, 7 and 5—waiting at home to shower him with gifts and kisses.
Plus, his back hurt as he worked 12 hours yesterday, making sure the crowd—and the performers—at Rock the Lakes in Rochester were safe.
Then Canton Jones took the stage. All of a sudden, the heat and his pain didn’t seem so intense. Jason noticed and appreciated how diverse the crowd was—and how everyone seemed to get along.
He also liked the music.
Next up, Lacey Sturm of Flyleaf shared her testimony and soon tears were streaming down the faces of teenage girls who flocked to the front of the stage.
But wait—were those tears welling up in Jason’s eyes too?
Lacey’s renditions of “How He Loves Us” and Sheryl Crow’s “I Shall Believe” tugged at his heart. “I don’t know what it was,” he said later. “Watching the crowd crying, thinking about my kids, being around good people—all of it got to me.
“I started thinking maybe there really is something to this salvation thing.”
Jason grew up in a strong Catholic family, but after 8th grade, he lost interest in the routine of going to mass, reciting prayers and trying on his own not to sin.
It was easier and more fun to ditch his faith and join the guys in smoking dope and looking at porn online.
After high school and a half-hearted attempt at college, Jason married a girl who lived in his apartment complex and he began to work in security. Kids followed and thoughts of God occasionally surfaced.
“But I didn’t want religion again—not in the empty way I knew it when I was young,” Jason explained.
After two days of hearing the Gospel, learning about a personal relationship with Jesus, seeing genuine worship and watching people treat each other in love, Jason knew what he wanted.
Moments after Will Graham closed out the two-day Festival with a final invitation, Jason slipped away and quietly asked to pray with a male counselor about asking Jesus into his heart.
He joined hundreds over two days in making that decision, each for different reasons and with different heart-tugs.
One man in a wheelchair said it was Franklin Graham’s “convicting and bold” preaching. A 20-year-old girl said she was tired of cutting to ease her pain. Another young woman battled depression and found courage in hearing Lacey Sturm discuss her story.
Michael W. Smith struck a chord with two sisters ages 9 and 10 when he talked about God “not only loving you, but liking you.”
And Canton Jones moved a 15-year old to rededicate his life to Christ after hearing the singer say that his deceased dad is still his hero even though he’s in heaven: “Canton said his father taught him how to worship and that is cool,” the teen told his counselor.
God used each of the artists, many video testimonies, Franklin Graham’s preaching and Will Graham’s concluding message to reach hearts in Rochester.
One counselor named Terre said God use Rock the Lakes and the Christian Life and Witness training she received to propel her from the sidelines to the frontline of action. “I’ve been in church a long time,” Terre explained. “But I always ministered behind the scenes.
“When this Festival came to Rochester, I knew it was time to get out there. Thankfully, there are events like this and the classes really helped me. It was such a privilege to lead someone to Christ and the amazing feeling is something the world can’t give.
“God will use all of this—including those of us who were trained—for a long time,” Terre added.
“Rock the Lakes was awesome,” said Luis Lopez of Luis Lopez Ministries. “It was great to watch so many people being saved. Everything worked together and Franklin Graham’s preaching was piercing.”
Lopez admired how prepared the counselors were in sharing their faith. “And you could just see the anointing of the Holy Spirit take over as they led people to Christ.”
Kevin Reese, who works alongside Lopez in ministry, said the best part of the weekend was seeing youth accept Jesus: “I think the impact on Rochester will last a long time. This Festival was really needed here and I hope that with the follow-up that is coming, this movement will continue for a long time.”
*Name changed by personal request