by Darla Vander Plaats
2,328 miles in 5 days, plus three concerts! That’s a road trip!
The FAMiLY LEADER’s Ashley, Kathy, and Darla set out on March 30 for Montgomery, Alabama, to attend the first ever Newsboys concert to feature If 7:14. The van was loaded with T-shirts, books, and other goodies to be distributed at concerts for the Newsboys’ 2016 “We Believe … God’s Not Dead” tour.
The weather was challenging, with driving rain, thunderstorms, and flash flood watches throughout the route. Yet God brought the team safely to Montgomery in sunshine for the first concert, where they met Noah (stage name Young Noah).
Noah is an up-and-coming artist breaking into the concert scene with this tour. He’s thrilled to be able to perform a collaborated song with Audio Adrenaline at each concert. He is also the official If 7:14 promoter at all of the concerts. He sets up the booth and tells people about If 7:14. After he performs, kids are drawn like flies to honey to talk to him and have their pictures taken, so there is tremendous opportunity to present If 7:14 to them and to their parents.
The ladies loved getting to know Noah and helping him as he learned the ropes of both If 7:14 and the other aspects of the concert world (like adoring adolescent girls – in his words, “Awkward!”). This fall he is looking forward to continuing with the Newsboys as an official warm-up act! His engaging and energetic personality is truly an asset for If 7:14.
Let me tell you, it was so exciting to see and hear the If 7:14 video played on the huge screen with 2,500 concert attendees watching it. It was even better when Michael Tait, lead singer for the Newsboys, gave an impassioned and compelling encouragement for everyone there to download the app and begin praying in unity with other believers for revival!
Michael cast a big vision of believers in every time zone, around the world, seeking the Lord as one in a global rhythm of prayer. Michael told us in a text that he is “beginning to make this thing my own, and I love it because it’s what I do every day, pray without ceasing.”
The day after the Montgomery concert, the ladies packed up and headed northeast to Woodstock, Georgia. Woodstock is a suburb of Atlanta, and this time the travel challenge was big city traffic! The concert was held at First Baptist Church of Woodstock – absolutely huge and beautiful! There were 5,000 worshippers who attended the concert and just rocked the foundations!
Kathy loved the time she spent at the If 7:14 booth during the concerts: “I appreciated meeting the concert goers who genuinely asked what If 7:14 was all about, and after describing the mission of our initiative they completely agreed, faces lit up, and they joined by downloading the app,” she said. “It gave me hope to see that the body of believers knows there is more to this thing than religion; we are seeking humility; we are seeking transformation; we are seeking community; we are seeking Christ. Prayer is what they believe needs to take place to find transformation of the church and nation.”
Another late night and another road trip back to Alabama brought us to Tuscaloosa, home of the Crimson Tide. The concert venue was an amphitheater along the Black Warrior River. It was a lovely, clear but chilly night. By this time, the ladies felt like they knew all of the songs and had started to look forward to their favorite parts of the concert.
Darla loved the moment each night during the Newsboys song “We Believe” when the band dropped out and the crowd sang as one, “We believe in God the Father. We believe in Jesus Christ. We believe in the Holy Spirit. And He’s given us new life. We believe in the crucifixion. We believe that He’s conquered death. We believe in the resurrection. And He’s coming back again.”
And of course, they all loved hearing Michael tell the crowd about If 7:14 each night.
After Tuscaloosa, it was only 13 hours and 833 miles back to Des Moines! The girls were grateful for many things – safe travels, successful concerts, and most of all, the opportunity to actually be in attendance and see the culmination of what God started two years ago when He brought the Newsboys and If 7:14 together for the first time.
Ashley noted that “getting out of the office and talking with so many people about this initiative we’ve been working on for so long was really encouraging. It’s easy to sit in the office and discuss how we think people will react and the best way to reach the maximum amount of people. But to actually get out on the road and talk to hundreds of people and connect personally, that really changed my outlook on If 7:14 and The FAMiLY LEADER and our potential.”
It was an amazing road trip. It has been an amazing journey for If 7:14. We look forward to the next steps, knowing that God has it all in His hands. We invite you to join If 7:14, the Newsboys, and the 2,000+ people who downloaded the app in the first weekend of the tour in unified prayer for revival for yourselves, your families, your churches and communities, and for America. Keep praying…it’s time!