On Aug. 7, close to 8,000 people braved steady rain for an all-day concert featuring popular bands Starfield, Downhere, The Almost and Skillet, and rapper Tedashii. At strategic intervals between music sets, Franklin Graham shared the Good News of Jesus Christ in simple, direct messages that impacted hundreds. By the end of the day, 466 people either accepted Christ for the first time, or rededicated their lives to Him.
But even before the first band hit the stage, Rock the River West was making a difference in the Fraser Valley. Fifteen-year-old Justin Montero shared his story about participating in a Community Action Project—a standard part of each Rock the River event—several weeks ago: “Even though it was just cleaning up Surrey, it really brought my youth group together. We also went to Safeway and started sharing Christ there. It was really fun and I know God worked through us because there were some testimonies after.”
Although Montero and his friends were a little nervous, the evangelism training they received through FM419 helped. “We’re still young and our generation—we are really concerned with what others think about us. But it says in [the book of] Matthew that ‘blessed are those that are persecuted in Jesus’ name.’ That’s what I learned in FM419.
“If they reject my sharing, they are not rejecting me. They are rejecting Jesus. It says there is a place in heaven for those who are persecuted in His name. So I win, even if they reject me. Then if they accept Him, I win. So it’s a win-win situation if you share Jesus with others.”
Montero was one of the first people through the gate on Saturday. He said of the weather that afternoon: “It will take a whole lot more than rain to stop us from worshipping God. I know that God sent this rain for a reason. If it’s part of his plan, then let it rain!”
Talking about his hopes for the day and afterward, Montero said he prayed that Rock the River would bring his youth group closer together. “I hope we won’t be ashamed to show that we are children of God and that after this, we’ll still evangelize.
“I hope everyone here invited their friends who don’t know Jesus yet. And I hope a lot of people will come and accept Jesus into their hearts, whether it is raining or not. I really pray they won’t be ashamed or scared and that they’ll let Jesus touch their hearts,” he added.
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Montero’s youth pastor, Louie DeJesus, brought 27 kids, who each brought two or three friends. “We’ve been getting ready for this for a long time,” said DeJesus. “We need stuff like this because our area is kind of dry in terms of the faith. Vancouver needs Jesus seriously. There are a lot of prostitutes on the streets, a lot of drugs. The kids in our group go to schools in the inner city where there are a lot of meshed cultures and religions–East Indian Hindus and Middle Eastern Muslims in one area.”
DeJesus said after the event ended, “We’ve been waiting and praying, and waiting and praying. On Thursday we came and walked around the grounds, praying in groups. We knew something like this would happen, that a massive amount of people would come—and now look at it! Look how many people got saved! I wish the weather was better, but a little bit of weather separates the men from the boys. God is going to do His thing whether it rains or not.”