Summer days were meant for one thing for a few years: a music festival called Spirit West Coast. Over a few days, it was a massive event filled with musicians, speakers, and comedians. Merchandise tables lined several large tents in one area, and performance tents for the artists were set up throughout the rented land, along with a main stage where the most famous names took the stage.
Due to the extreme summer heat, I made the four-hour round-trip drive daily and needed to drink more daily. While camping was an option, it was more cost-effective to make daily trips. Exhausted from travel and the sun's warmth while walking from one event to another, I lost consideration for what the artists were dealing with personally when I was able to meet a few that summer. Long tours, things that can go wrong, lack of sleep, and screaming fans can sometimes take a toll. Artists give everything they have and then some because they recognize their calling, love their craft, and appreciate their fans.
That summer, I had the opportunity to meet a group I had enjoyed in my younger years and prayed for years I would be able to meet and encourage them one day. The Newsboys had undoubtedly made a name for themselves, and I had been inspired by their songs several times. This summer, I would have to spend more money than I anticipated to pay for the VIP passes, but I took the leap of faith when God opened the door for which I had fervently prayed. With my badge in hand, I made my way to the tent, and the boys were as gracious as they could be as they were enduring some challenging personal matters. I met three members, but the one who stood out was Phil Joel (seen in the picture). His heart is genuinely gracious and overflowing with God’s love, and I was given a few moments to share something with him.
When we pray, God listens and cares. I spent years on the road going everywhere He led, and in response, he opened doors that summer to answer what I had prayed for to encourage the guys in the Newsboys group. One story I had to share with Phil touched his heart, and he responded with a bear-sized hug that touched my heart. It is not always about what words we share or what someone's title might be; everyone needs encouragement. Listen to that prompting to encourage others and watch what God might do. To this day, I have a special place in my heart for ministering to those in the public eye. I feel like I’m home in my mission and have a new and fresh energy when given the opportunity.