4.100 miles, 4 cities, 3 of the most marginalized people groups in America,100s of lives touched by the love of God. That was Rolling Thunder 2012 in a nutshell. Our team of musicianaries has been training all year for this trip - from band practices to dramas to hands on ministry - and we finally got to put all three components together for three weeks of impact across the Southwest. It was amazing, life changing, challenging and tons of fun! Here's a recap.....
We started our tour in Decatur, Texas with a special needs ministry followed by a worship service later that same evening. Then we headed for El Paso, Texas, home of Provision International's brand new missions base on the border of Juarez, Mexico (pictured). We reached out to the community, built relationships and celebrated the opening of the Thunder Dome base with a powerful and anointed worship concert in the desert.
A huge majority of the population in El Paso is hispanic. Those we met were sweetly humble and kind at heart making our time there a delight. It was a joy to see first hand what God is up to and an extra special treat to see our pioneering, missionary friends (including my buddy Gareth Kerlin of Grottoes, VA) who have spent the last three months renovating and preparing the base for its opening.
Next stop: Payson, Arizona where we stayed at a local Christian Coffehouse and held a rockin' outreach in the parking lot of the shop on a main road. The turn out was great, but it was the presence of the Lord that made it truly amazing. People were encountering God in deep ways and being filled up by His Spirit. I've never felt so free in worship to dance and express my love for Jesus - it was so much fun!
Then we hit the road to Las Vegas. Amazingly, we made it safely after the back right tire fly off the 15 passenger van and across the interstate. Yikes! We were able to pull off the road safely (miracle #1), AAA showed up before we even called (miracle #2), got us to a great mechanic shop who was able to get all the parts we needed and had us back on the road in under 2 1/2 hours (miracle #3). I'm convinced it must be a world record for fastest emergency van fix. We even made it to our evening outreach in one of the roughest inner city areas of Vegas. The Lord certainly protected us and worked things out on our behalf - it was nothing short of extraordinary.
Vegas turned out to be a highlight of the trip, not because of where we were, but because of what we were able to be a part of. We stayed at the Las Vegas Dream Center - a church that has been reaching out to the inner city much like Provision International has been doing over the past 20 years in Nashville. We were able to share love in four areas known for violence and gang activity and participate in a prayer walk with hundreds of community members - we even made the local news! My favorite moment by far was getting to share the gospel to inner-city kids in the third worst neighborhood in the US and leading a couple dozen of them to the Lord in prayer (see picture at left). It was
After two weeks of touring, sleeping on floors and being crammed into a van or SUV with 25+ people, we were excited to get to the Grand Canyon. It was grand indeed! A great place to be refreshed and take in the amazingness of God's creation. It reminded me of Romans 1:20, "since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse." How you can see something as amazing as the Grand Canyon and not believe in it's Creator is a mystery to me.
Our last stop was Navajo territory in Tuba City, Arizona. We stayed at a local church and led two evening services there. As our team started believing for more healings, they happened! My favorite story from the trip happened to a military man who had been struggling with shoulder pain for 15 years. He couldn't hold his arms up parallel to the floor for more than a few seconds without pain and trembling. He walked away completely healed! The next day, he came to our huge community outreach and testified to the 400+ Navajo and Hopi people who had gathered about his healing encounter.
I can't say I ever thought I would witness such things. Radical healings and salvations were never a part of my life and faith walk. I've been pushed, pulled and stretched into deeper faith. It hasn't been easy - I've had to fight against a whole life time of disbelief and questions - but I can sure say it was worth it. The Lord is truly alive and well and full of love for His kids. I'm so thankful I got to bear witness to the abundant love he showed to those we met on Rolling Thunder. Bless them and keep them, Lord and may Your name be lifted high!