The past 2-½ weeks have been an absolute whirlwind. We arrived back home from our west coast tour at 7:00am on Wed. morning and to say that the band was tired would be an understatement. We traveled over 6,000 miles by car with our gear and whatever else we could carry with us in tow. We went from one extreme to the next. Experiencing near freezing temperatures as we were leaving Louisville, KY to sunny and 75 at our first stop of the tour in Yuma, AZ. Of course all traveling was done in the comfort of our air conditioned and heat controlled all terrain vehicle, so I guess we can’t really complain.
After our first stop at Foothills Southern Baptist Church where we had the joy of serving pastor Joe Johnson and his church family (very kind and gracious hosts who love Jesus and people very well) in Yuma, AZ, on Wed. (2/11) It was one of our most diverse worship nights and exactly what the church should look like, multi-generational and multi-ethnic. We saw people from all different walks of life lifting their hands in worship and bolding singing God’s Word. After the worship night, we took a brief respite then headed off to Irvine, CA, passing through San Diego (seriously one of the most beautiful parts of the country I’ve ever passed through), and arriving in Irvine, CA sometime around mid-afternoon the next day.
We had the privilege of playing for CRU (Campus Crusade for Christ) at The University of California Irvine on Thursday (2/12). It happened to be our only “college” event of the tour but was really refreshing for us as a band being able to connect with students and staff, especially after having travelled close to 2,500 miles in the past 4 days.
We loaded up after being treated to a California staple “In and Out Burger” by our wonderful host Jon Roper (Director of CRU UCI) and his wife. Is “In and Out Burger” really that good? Well, we like it and Californians will fight you to death over it, so we’re inclined to agree.
After a late night/early AM drive to Fresno, we headed 30 minutes down the road to Chowchilla, CA to play a DNOW (weekend youth retreat, 2/13-2/15) at Valley Harvest Church. For the next 3 days our band continually bragged about 75 degree weather, palm trees, while our friends and family were suffering through 8 degree temperatures and 8 inches of snow. Obviously we’re still being sanctified:) The weekend was absolutely wonderful. We were treated like family by pastors Bobby Dibler, Brian Mott and our amazing host Gaylyn Mott. We heard testimony of how God was working in the lives of students and leaders and changing hearts through The Gospel. What’s amazing is that we were able to see hearts changed because of The Word, sung and preached at every church/organization that we went to, in what was for us a foreign land. God’s Word transcends community, culture and geography. No matter where you are it stays the same and is always relevant.
We spent 3 amazing days with our friends at Valley Harvest and headed back down to southern California for 2 days off (2/16-2/17). We toured the Fender USA Factory, Disney Land (Richie’s request) and some of the band even went to Huntington Beach in Orange Country to see the sunrise. Unfortunately due to Southern California traffic they were a tad late, even after leaving at 5am.
Our next stop was at Valley Baptist Church in Bakersfield, CA where we had the privilege of playing for PULSE Student Ministries where over 250 students from the community were able to hear the Gospel. Jeremy Doyle, the high school pastor at Valley was extremely kind and gracious during our brief time in Bakersfield, providing, food, housing and of course a place for us to serve.
We headed off to the Sacramento area where we played at Cypress Baptist Church (2/19). Chris Crain is one of the pastors at Cypress and wanted to challenge his student’s understanding of what worship looked like, so we had the privilege of teaching the students through song and word on Biblical worship. Chris has poured his heart, resources and energy into Cypress Baptist Church over the years and we can see the amazing work that God is doing through him and the leadership at Cypress.
One of our last stops on the tour was the Winter Youth Retreat (2/20-2/22) at Jenness Park, located in Cold Springs, CA where we were able to reconnect with their amazing staff and a number of students and leaders that we met this past summer at FUGE Camps. Director Barry Lloyd and John Jeleti were extremely gracious hosts, taking care of the needs of a band on tour that happened to be a very long way from home and making us feel like family. We had the privilege of seeing 12 students (that we know of) make professions of faith in Jesus Christ over the weekend. I never grow tired of seeing The Gospel transform people during corporate worship. It reawakens sleeping believers and it brings people who were lost to the loving arms of our amazing Savior.
After finishing up at Jenness park on Sunday, we decided to brave the cold and the snow and travel through the Sierra Nevada mountains to our last stop at Bridgeport Christian fellowship(Sunday Night, 2/22), in Bridgeport, CA. Nichole Crim was our contact person and host while we were in Bridgeport and we were blown away by her amazing hospitality. Kevin and Nichole moved their family to Bridgeport, CA, a small fishing town, away from family and friends a number of years ago, following a call for Kevin to pastor a small church in north central California, Bridgeport Christian fellowship. It’s amazing hearing stories like these where people are truly giving up what they love and cherish, even family and friends for the sake of the Gospel.
We stayed in Bridgeport Sunday night and headed back to Louisville, KY traveling over 2,200 miles in about 48 hours so we could get back home to family, worship leading and teaching responsibilities. We were absolutely blown away by the love and support that we received while out on tour on the west coast. Our goal was to reach and encourage students and leaders with The Gospel. Each and every church, host, pastor and leader allowed us to serve with joy and energy because of the love that they showed us. We’re blessed to be able to share The Gospel through song and wait with eager expectation for what God has in store.