Edmonton, Canada’s “Festival City” and capital city of the Alberta province, will encounter a different kind of festival that will hopefully change the course of eternity for thousands.
Known as Canada’s “Festival City,” Edmonton plays host to a year-round slate of world-class festivals, many of them related to food, art and culture. This weekend, a new kind of festival will come to town. On Saturday, August 28, Christian artists and groups Flyleaf, Tedashii, Skillet, downhere, Hawk Nelson and Starfield will take the stage at Telus Field in this capital city of the Canadian province Alberta. This is the third and final stop of the Rock the River Tour West.
The day will feature a several-hour concert that includes each of the acts mentioned above, with intermittent Gospel presentations by Franklin Graham.
Edmonton has the largest shopping mall in North America (West Edmonton Mall) and is the Canadian testing ground for many retailers around the world. With a metro area population of more than one million people, Edmonton is also known for its ethnic diversity. Much of that diversity is found within the churches involved with Rock the River.
How Churches Prepared
“We have about 180 churches involved in Rock the River, whether they are coming to meetings, or sending people to training,” said BJ Rogers, BGEA Rock the River Tour West Director for Edmonton. “Many of those churches are made up of various ethnic groups who have partnered with BGEA to bring the Gospel to Edmonton. This city is full of people from all kinds of backgrounds, from just about every place in the world.”
He tells one story about a Chinese church’s persistence to serve, despite significant obstacles. “During these months leading up to Rock the River, this Chinese congregation had a flood in their basement, and had to not only replace the floor, but the wall as well. Amid all the stress and distractions, they are more excited than ever about seeing young people, in their church and in their community, come to Christ. They are doing everything it takes to send counselors to Rock the River, especially those who can minister to our Chinese-speaking attendees.”
The excitement about Saturday’s event extends far beyond Edmonton. Churches in different parts of Canada are also enthusiastic about seeing Canada’s youth live out the Gospel. Rogers tells of another church four hours away from Edmonton who is sending a large group of counselors to Telus Field. “They were heavily involved in the Community Action Projects in Valley View and are really excited about being involved. Not only have their youth been hands-on in the Community Action Projects; they have been learning to share their faith.”
While the city of Edmonton is relatively churched, Rogers says it needs Rock the River more than ever. “This city needs to see the church of Jesus Christ be unified for this event, but the church also needs to be seen as unified beyond that, as this is a very mosaic culture. People from all backgrounds are living in this city,” he said. “I would like for the church here to have a loving, caring, consistent presence beyond Saturday’s event.”
How to Pray for Rock the River in Edmonton
Rogers has two predominant prayer needs. “Please ask everyone to pray that unity among churches will continue to grow and that it does so in way that reaches across ethnic and geographical boundaries. There is a real bridging effect that needs to happen.”
He also wants people to pray that the spiritual change will occur far beyond Saturday’s event. “I don’t want this to be just remembered as a great event. I want the people that come to Christ to be discipled and grow up in their faith.”