The task of Rock the River this weekend can be boiled down to four simple words:
Reaching Ottawa for Jesus.
But completing the mission is not quite as neat and tidy.
In fact, church attendance in Canada, much like the U.S., has plummeted since the 1940s, when nearly 70 percent of the country attended. Now, less than 20 percent of Canadians consider themselves the church-going type.
And the task in Ottawa — both the technology and political center of Canada — seemed like an even greater challenge.
But Rock the River has seen God unify the Ottawa Church and excite the Ottawa-Gatineau metro area (population 1.2 million) in the effort to spread the Gospel of Christ.
“We’re really pleased,” Rock the River Director David Ingram said. “People seem to have been galvanized by what the event is all about.”
The Sept. 29 and 30 event marks the fifth Rock the River outreach in Canada. In August of 2010, Fraser Valley near Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton hosted one-day youth-centered events while Winnipeg hosted a similar one-day Festival in September of 2011.
“It’s the fifth one we’ve done now in Canada, and we feel like we’ve got better involvement and enthusiasm than any other city,” said Ingram, who says the recent 1998 Crusade in Ottawa, Billy Graham’s final international event, may have helped energize the community. The involvement with the Christian Life and Witness classes has been the largest of the five cities.”
A myriad of Rock the River happenings have indicated the Spirit of God is moving in the nation’s capital:
- Nearly 2,000 counselors have been trained to share Christ, including more than 500 youth at the FM419 event.
- After the original printing of 16,000 Rock the Lakes invitation cards ran out weeks ago, an additional 14,000 were printed and distributed.
- One church is holding a weekend lock-in event, where in addition to attending Rock the River together; the youth group will hit the streets and other public areas to deliver last-minute invitations on Friday night, Saturday morning, Saturday night and Sunday morning.
- Tremendous prayer support for the event. Nearly 5,000 people have registered online to pray for Rock the River with more than 4,000 wristbands given out that say Je Prie (“I’m Praying” in French) and the event’s website (RocktheRiver.ca).
“That to us is a good indication that God’s blessing is going to hit us on this one,” Ingram said. “On the whole we’re very encouraged.”
But Ingram knows there’s still a lot to be done and little time left. “We’re really deep into the details of some of the last-minute stuff,” he said. “I think (Ottawa) is a great spot to declare the love of Jesus Christ.”
And even if you can’t make it out to Ottawa, you can still be involved in several ways.
Prayer: There’s still time to sign up as a prayer partner for Rock the River. Click here to be a prayer warrior.
Watch at home: Rock the River will be streaming live on personal computers, tablets and mobile devices from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. both Sept. 29 and 30. Share this live streaming website with your friends. For a complete schedule of which bands are playing, check out the Rock the River website. Thousand Foot Krutch, The Afters, Flame, Michael W. Smith, Matt Maher and Lacey from Flyleaf are just some of the artist performing this weekend.
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.