On Saturday, August 28, thousands of young people will gather at Telus Field in Edmonton, Alberta to hear high-energy music from bands like Flyleaf, Downhere and Hawk Nelson while Franklin Graham delivers intermittent Gospel messages. Many local Christian leaders and youth are hoping this event, called Rock the River Tour West, will be the beginning, and not the end, of a spiritual awakening in Edmonton.
Local youth pastor Syd Bergsma is excited for Rock the River Tour West to come to the Edmonton area. “Edmonton is unique in that Christians from all kinds of backgrounds work together very well. For years, we have worked on interdenominational events and projects that showcase a real unity in the local bodies of Christ,” he said. “Because of this, Rock the River Tour West fits right in. We have always been able to put aside petty differences and focus on the Main Thing – Jesus Christ.
Randy Young, another local youth pastor agrees that the Edmonton area has much to offer in the way of Christ-centered events, but believes it can sometimes leave the churched youth desensitized.
“We are so blessed in North America to have these types of events, but you also can look on the Facebook pages of some of these churched kids and see that they are often the most vulgar and cynical,” he said. “We have seen a lot of depression and suicide attempts among the younger folks here – even the Christian students. They are dealing with a lot of issues, and they are looking for hope.”
Young and Bergsma alike are joyfully anticipating what happens after the Rock the River Tour event: the follow-up. “I really like the follow-up program that BGEA has in place. That’s truly why I took on the FM419 project,” Young said. “Will it be a great day? Yes. But the real difference here is the follow-up. That’s where the event continues. It’s not necessarily about BGEA or Franklin Graham and these bands coming in here and doing their thing. These trained local kids help to carry it on. I love the longevity of it and the legacy it leaves.”
Bergsma is already seeing God move among the kids in his youth ministry.
“There is this one guy we’ve come to know who is from an unchurched home. He began coming to our youth ministry gathering in October, upon the invitation of a friend. Over the past few months, he has been processing a lot of new things he has been learning about God and after hearing the Gospel message many times. In fact, he didn’t even know there is a God,” he said. “So this kid came to FM419 with us. Many kids in our group were hoping this is the day he would accept Christ. When the students were prompted to fill out the card about accepting Christ, he had indicated, “yes!”
Both men can agree they want Rock the River Tour to start a ripple effect of changed lives in the Edmonton area. Young says he would like to see his students “own” their faith. “We’ve taught them at church, their parents have taught them at home, and many can even quote more Scripture than I can. I want to see them come to a place where will not regurgitate information, but tell their friends what makes them different. Then, I want to see the other young believers catch on, get excited about the Gospel and be spiritually contagious.”
Bergsma wants to see his students motivated to share the Gospel. “My desire is that the young Christians of the Edmonton area will see the spirit of God moving at the Rock the River Tour event and be compelled to continue this when school starts back the following week. I want them to come away from that event wanting God to use them to reach their unsaved friends at school.”
ROCK THE RIVER TOUR
The largest generation in our history knows less about Jesus than any generation before, yet they have a deep hunger for truth. Your gift of any amount can help produce an immediate dividend still this summer as teens and young adults hear and respond to the life-changing Gospel through our Rock the River Tour outreach.