We would like to hear your True Love SoulFest story. There may have been a memory made, testimony of a life changed, or a special moment of renewed connection. Your testimony will help inspire others to grow in their faith and help our staff to have a focus on why we do what we do.
Please write to firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to have your story posted, also please include if you would like your story to be listed as anonymous.
SoulFest 2012 Attendees Thoughts
What Soul Fest Meant To Me…Loving God is Cool
I learned there were no rules,
I don’t have to go to a building to believe
That was the biggest relief
Helping others is Love
Like an angel sent from above,
So many people were there
Their hopefulness filled the air
I listened to music with a different lens
I could hear the words and the message,
Music can feed your soul
Like a beautiful spirit from old
By opening my heart and letting go
My fears melted away nice and slow,
My heart grew bigger and warmer
A sense of peacefulness took over
But most important of all
There was a beautiful wall,
To aid each other was its purpose
People needed help & vice versus
At the end of each night
He looked up at the starry lights,
Deep down in his soul what he really wanted us all to know
Was that when all else has failed
True love will prevail
First time Soul Fest Attendee, August ‘12
From the Cross...First- I don’t think the singing from the audience was ever louder or more beautiful than it was during the Chris Tomlin set. I am surprised the trees on the mountain side didn’t join in and clap with us. (They may have - I don’t know, I had my eyes closed.)
The singing at the cross tent was beautiful just an hour before that, as little blind Christopher came and serenaded us. It was delightful. It was the perfect end to a day that started this way-
His name was Joe and he came to the True Love Exchange board looking like he had a serious matter on his hands. Our volunteers explained to him how the True Love Exchange board worked and he replied that he indeed, had something to give although he wasn’t sure he could put it on a card and pin it to the board. When asked why, he replied “because its me - I want to give my heart to God”. He filled out the card none the less and then went into the tent to pray with our staff and there, committed his life to Christ.
We also met Judy- a 67 year old woman at her first Soulfest. She had just had brain surgery (to remove a tumor) two weeks ago, but she hiked up the mountain… not wanting to miss the praise and worship.
The spiritual…the practical. At the exchange board another need was met for a campsite. A family had a place to stay. Someone bought batteries for a kid that needed them for his flashlight…and on it goes.
On our way out of the festival- after the music had stopped, we met a two week old baby in her mom’s arms. Her name was Scarlett. Think about it. Her new life began about the same day that Judy was having surgery on her brain. Yesterday was the first day at Soulfest for both of them. There will be many more. As we walked to our car it was almost as if we could hear Bono singing the anthem “Rejoice”. Scarlett was a good word to describe a day when the blood of Christ moved so powerfully in people’s lives around the old rugged cross on the hill.
Love is everywhere, indeed.
From the Cross...His name was Caleb. He turned to us after pounding a nail deep into the wood of the cross and said “that felt good, real good”. We noticed he had been hammering with such determination and intensity that we asked if we could pray for him. We bowed our heads together and he spoke over and over again “I need strength, I just need strength…”
So many come to the SoulFest cross hoping for heaven’s strength. Around the foot of the cross we hear how life is hard for so many. We have had more people visit the cross this year than any other. Yesterday ended and today began each with a person wrapping their arms around the nails and the wood, resting their head and weeping.
A man and his wife approached the TLE table with one of the true love exchange cards in hand. “I think we can help” he said. The card they held was written by a single parent in need of furniture. The man took down the name of the parent and smiled saying he and his wife had just moved and they had furniture to give away. The man explained he was in school to be a youth pastor. One of the TLE staff members asked if he had seen the other side of the board where people had listed items to give away. She explained that someone had posted a job opening for a youth pastor there. The man was so excited and went over and took the information down. It was exciting to see someone who came to the board to meet a need and walked away having a need met themselves in return.
The pledge box is full again this year with countless SF attendees having dropped their copy in. One woman, wearing an “Andrew Allard is my friend” bracelet approached the table. “What does this bracelet mean?”, she asked. One of the staff told the story of 13 year old Andrew who signed the pledge 5 years ago and passed away shortly after. Determined to live out the pledge, 13 year old Andrew invited his friends to come to youth group and to hear about Jesus… Each year Andrew’s mom leaves his original pledge and bracelets at the pledge table to encourage other attendees to follow Andrew’s example and live out the revolution Jesus started. After hearing the story, the woman explained that she too had a teenage son and what a struggle it is sometimes for parents to raise them. She received prayer with tears in her eyes and found the strength to continue on her journey.
As in years past, placing the flowers on the cross each evening has become an audience participation event. Each flower represents the grace that covers our sin. As night is falling, people crowd around the cross at this solemn time. After all, it is the people that make SoulFest what it is. It is a four-day community, summarized best by a pastor who came to the cross looking to reconnect with God. “I came to SoulFest empty, and I thought it would be the music that made the difference. The music has been great, but it has been the people that have really touched my life. So many have ministered to me over these days, and I feel God’s touch in my life again.”
That says it pretty well.
From the Cross...Here is what we saw at Soulfest today:
We saw a volunteer named Tina from VT to the left of the Revival stage selling programs; waving them above her head for hours with all the energy of a person stuck on a desert island trying to flag down a rescue plane. When we met her she said it was her first year volunteering and she felt so blessed to be here. She thought she had the best job in the world. Holding her hands high, stuffed with programs, praising God to the music, helping out the Soulfest.
We saw two friends gather at the base of the cross who both tragically lost their sons. Incredibly, today was five years to the day that Andrew signed the Soulfest pledge as a 13 year old boy. Linda was left to wonder what Andrew would have been like today at 18 and we drove a nail for Andrew five years later. Kevin also drove a nail for Jacob- high above the rest. He hung a flow er on it that evening and just stood there with tears in his eyes “I miss him” was all he could say.
We also saw needs being met at the TLE board. One story came as a man wrote down his need of a place to stay tonight, while across the board another man was writing that he had an extra campsite available. The man in need had come up at a desperate time in his life- going through family problems, thinking about his dad’s suicide, and wondering about his own place in the world. The two men met- the need settled and the giver testified to the man in need as to how he had been in the same place four years earlier. When they finally parted ways- the man, (now with a place to stay), stood alone in front of the TLE board and sobbed and sobbed and sobbed.
It was a beautiful day over at the cross- that sacred ground at Soulfest. It was the busiest first day we can remember, so these stories will just scratch at the surface, but we hope it will give you a feel for what is transpiring and how we can’t wait to get back at it tomorrow.
Incidentally, the lighting after dark provided a dramatic shadow of the cross on top of the tent. It serves as a reminder that all we say and do is under the shadow of the cross. We love you. It is a good thing God has you doing here.
Each year my wife and I have come to Soulfest we have been amazed at the amount of serious ministry that takes place in such a short time in the New England Prayer Center tent. We have faced kids and adults who were depressed, suicidal, happy, abused, emotionally and spiritual bound, sick, and even some from cults. One of the stories I heard from a man who accidentally killed his son seemed so incredible I actually went online after last year's Soulfest to see if I could find verification. I found it, exactly as the man had told me. If I could sum up this year's experience I would have to say it was "offering grace". There were many people, young and older who had distorted understandings of God's grace in their lives. As one who has pastored and been in ministry for over 30 years I have learned the importance of learning how to rest in God's grace through the work of Christ. The stories I heard over and over were, "I'm not good enough - I'm not doing enough - I'm a failure." Many broke down and wept as I shared the Father's heart and prayed for a deeper understanding of His love. It doesn't get much better than being able to introduce people to the reality of the Good News. Burdens were still being lifted at Calvary!
My wife and I were blessed to attend our first Soulfest this year. We learned about it through the New England Prayer Center (Gina and Dan Blaze) just five days before we showed up to volunteer in the Prayer Tent. We cannot begin to do justice to the blessings God unleashed before our eyes and within us personally, but we would like to share just a few of the testimonies to His glory.
We had every intension of "sticking together" for this ministry, but God quickly revealed His plans for women helping women and men with men, with an occasional couple with couple as the needs of His people dictated. It was amazing to see how the needs lined up perfectly with both experience and direction by the Holy Spirit to bring prayers upward.
A young boy and his mother came into the tent Friday afternoon. They wanted to pray for an answer to their father's/husband's job situation. "Should we move in with my sister down in Texas?" the mother asked. My prayer partner Gary was quick to calm them both down and we said a short prayer for guidance and insight. As the discussion continued, it became clear to the woman that the move to Texas was not what God was revealing to her. It was evident that God had already made concessions for tuition and mortgage payments to be covered "miraculously." Then the Holy Spirit prompted this question to the boy, "What do you believe?" And the boy opened up with a flurry of testimonies about how he saw God providing for his family. We prayed again, and this time we had the boy place his hands over the mother's hearing aid filled ears. We prayed for the Holy Spirit to continue using this boy to help the family hear God's will clearly and to give them peace about being open to job opportunities for the father. You could see the peace come over both of them as they left the tent renewed in hope and confident that God was leading them. We didn't have to answer their tough initial question, God did all the tough parts through the surrender, faith, and prayers of everyone gathered before Him!
Later in the evening a young girl sat down in front of my wife and I. She began to sob as we asked, "Is there something specifically we can pray about?" She relayed the sudden death of her cousin the week prior. She said they were all planning on coming to Soulfest together, but now everything was in shambles and people seemed so insensitive to her hurting.
She did not know if she could go on in the face of all her pain. Through several minutes of prayer, the Holy Spirit moved within her to encourage her that her cousin was in Heaven and that life would go on. She even received the word that she would bring comfort to both her family and many other young people mourning this death through her faith. My wife and I now shared her tears of grief and joy as she realized that coming into this tent had given her exactly what Jesus had promised, comfort for those who mourn.
She stood up, collected herself, and thanked God for His goodness as she walked out with a new mission of helping others cope.
A young man came into the tent just before closing on Friday. He was very disturbed and related how he had started Bible College, but was taking a break because he just could not concentrate. He related how he had been molested on two different times in his life and was "haunted by evil spirits telling me lies." I asked if he was seeing a Christian Counselor, and he said yes. So we prayed. At the conclusion of the first round of prayer, he said he was not sure if he was ever going to shake the evil lies. I felt myself praying under my breath, "God please help me help him because I am in way over my own head here!" I looked around, but all the other prayer leaders were praying - the tent was packed. But I knew I was not alone. I pulled out a small Bible I was carrying and turned to John's Gospel. We were led through the Word in a wonderful path of Truth. The young man kept insisting that he was hearing the lies. And the words came out of me, "You will be ok because you know the Truth and The Truth will set you free!" He looked at me and said, "How do you know I know the truth?" And I simply replied, "Because you keep telling me you are hearing lies, and you told me you love Jesus. Jesus is showing you that they are lies!" He started to weep as his heart was opened, but I said that it was now time to pray. We prayed together for several minutes, sometimes he would repeat my words and sometimes I would repeat his. But when we concluded, he looked much different than the young man who had entered the tent.
This same young man actually came back on Saturday night, just before we were planning to close down. He asked for me, but this time I was busy praying with someone else. So a team of those in the tent started talking and praying with him. Some of the same issues from Friday started to surface, but by the time I got over to him, they were laying hands upon him and praying for healing and peace. We concluded that prayer repeating Philippians 4:13 loudly. I handed him the small Bible I had been using the night before and told him to keep it close. He grabbed it from me as if a lifeline. While I know he has some ways to go in healing and counseling, I am looking forward to Soulfest next year to hear his victorious testimony.
My wife and I were blown away by how many people came into our path in such a short two days. This was an experience we will never forget. God used us to help others while He helped us grow in spirit, truth and several other ways. We are praying for continued blessings upon the New England Prayer Center and the organizers of Soulfest. And we are so thankful to God for leading us through this wonderful testimony to His love!
2010Dear SoulFest Team,
I have been struggling and editing what I'm compelled to share about my experience this year at SoulFest. Rather than delay further, rethink and rewrite, I'll just let it flow.
First off, thank you. I don't know who all is behind the scenes, other than names in the Gratitude section of the program, but I can only imagine it's a massive effort, risk and stretch for you. I'm not sure many know just how intense a production an event like SoulFest is. I can't get my head around it, but thank you.
I'm one of those who got in free. I was given a free coupon by a friend. Drove a few hours and stayed. I felt like I arrived at a beautiful village just this side of heaven. The organization, the staff, the greeters, the walls covered with hearts, the Deeper Well, the cool big tent where I ate a few to many crepes, .. the Revival Stage and Mountain Top stages were my favorite. The inside out stage was a bit far away and the music wasn't my thing, but I appreciate the idea of it. I have to say, the line up was amazing. I didn't know half of the artist but was blown away to discover some new artists, Matt Maher, Phil Joel, Fireflight. Israel Houghton blew our minds. WOW... I've seen Jars before at a club in Boston and they we're better than I remember.
Someone told me you gave a way a lot of tickets. I want you to know that I will be back next year and I'll bring my friends and we will pay. SoulFest deserves my support and I hope others will do likewise and more. I'll be in touch to get promo materials for my Church. I can't believe my church didn't push this. August is a lame month for our church... we all need the ministry that happens at SoulFest.
Your festival program was chalked full of great thought provoking articles. I wished I had bought 10 copies to share with my friends who stay home and watched TV etc... The True Love Pledge nails it... I took it. and have thought about it a few times since. I probably should take it every day or at least every week.
Thank you for introducing me to the NOT FOR SALE company. I had no idea. I do now. I'm signed up and will not stop fighting to end modern day slavery. Next year, I'll got to the academy.
A week prior to the festival if you asked me what it meant to be soul-connected or live from the inside out or be surrendered to True Love, I wouldn't really have known what you were talking about. My personal relationship with God was cliche and shaped to serve me. I feel like I was born again, even though I did that years ago. I certainly came unstuck. I love referring to myself as a "Believer" a "True Love Believer".
Thank you, thank you thank you.
Wearing my SoulFest Tee Shirts proud and telling my friends what I discovered this summer at SoulFest, True Love.
see you next August.
I need SoulFest. I want to confess this to you and anyone reading this. SoulFest opens up a door that for some reason.... the gravity of my day to day, keeps shutting. I get tunnel vision real quick and maybe that's just the human condition, but I realize it and I sincerely wish I was more open, more open on so many fronts, but this door closes constantly and I leave so much opportunity outside my door. SoulFest magically opens that door. It's like a trap door that holds me in and holds me back, if you will. (That might help the metaphor translate better.) The weight of my reality is heavy on top of that door. When I think of SoulFest and when I begin to make my plans to attend and when I actually am at SoulFest and when I reflect back on being on site at the Beautiful location, I feel this fresh energy, I feel a release, I feel a renewal, a healing, and I am filled with hope.
I know it's not of my own strength, but I struggle to stay fresh throughout the year and find it to be a short lived experience. I think so much of myself, my limits, my relationships, my desires, my finances, my status, my goals... and it overwhelms me. For the few days of my year at SoulFest, I truly realize that it's not up to me, all about me, and only me. The TRUE LOVE theme busts back into my heart and frees my soul from my brain (where I've made a religion of my spiritual journey) and breaks open my trap door allowing me another experience of this rare and profound renewal.
I've attended SoulFest for many years now. I want to live "from the Inside Out, Soul-Connected, as a risk taking Believer in True Love." I can't, expect when I surrender to God's Love for me and I release myself, empty my lungs, and take in a deep breath, let go of all the would of, should of, could of situations that I deal with throughout the other 51 weeks of the year. SoulFest helps me to understand that my human nature is God's plan and no matter what, He loves me, He loved me before I ever had a notion of having a personal relationship with him. I know it's in my surrender not in my self disciplines... I am more aware of myself, my neighbor, God's love for me and everyone, as well as my responsibility to participate locally and beyond in helping the poor... all of this and more, I'm sure, is what comes to me when i think of SoulFest.
Thank you for continuing to bring this power and unique event to this area. I know you all sacrifice and work hard. I will do all I can to spread the word in my community, but please understand, everyone I know seems stuck and in one way or another afraid to let go. If I could, I would kidnap my family and friends and bring them. Each year, I see more of my friends willing to join me and this is great. The Spirit moves powerfully at SoulFest and I know all who attend in one way or another will receive that special renewal that opens their trap door, allowing us all to believe in True Love, receive True Love and Spread True Love to everyone that crosses our path.
I will see you in a few weeks. Send me more posters and flyers. Thank you for keeping the musical line up fresh, for the chances you are taking, for the Soul University workshops and Thank you to Gunstock for allowing this event to take place on their site. (I imagine they are hugely blessed.)
-A grateful friend
Chris, 'True Witness'
We had a woman write us yesterday, and tell us that her husband was diagnosed with a terminal illness (failing fast), and all his final request was to come to SoulFest to see True Witness perform there. She said he listens to our cd's all the time. I guess he saw us at a coffeehouse in NH last year. His wife just bought him the SoulFest tickets. He is so thrilled. He says it is his way to go out in glory. I asked for her phone number, and yesterday the band got together and called him. Truly touched our hearts and humbled us completely talking with this amazing couple. He says he is hanging in there until SoulFest. He is fighting. Still rather young, and has serious heart disease and now developed early onset alzheimers. Please keep him in prayer...His name is John. We are praying to see him at our concert at Mercy St, right up front (which is where he says he wants to be). We are praying for his physical strength that day, so he can enjoy the SoulFest experience.
Just wanted you to know that what you do is so important to so many. I thought you might want to hear this story of courage and strength of love and spirit. SoulFest touches many lives. We are honored to be a part of it. Thanks Dan Russell for your faith in True Witness. God Bless
Chris, and all here at True Witness
Soulfest was time to be alone with my children one on one with the opportunity to experience Jesus, alive, touching people’s hearts and lives today as He touched lives 2000 yrs ago; to meet people who are reaching out, in their love for Jesus, to a suffering world to make a difference; and the experience brought us face to face with people who are expressing their faith and love for Jesus beyond the context of church… in the every day lives through art, justice, missions, drama, music, prayer, & testimonies.
Though the weather was stormy and the mud deep, the spiritual experience was even deeper… The stormy weather (rain and mud mixed with sunshine), in the challenge created by the circumstances, only helped to frame and reinforce the understanding and perspective that one person can make a difference in the life of another… to bring an end to human trafficking, to bring water to a thirsty village, to bring justice and freedom to someone who cannot get it without help. Each person has a role to play in changing “the way things are” for good.
Though my children reluctantly agreed to come when I first asked them (because they hadn’t been before) and my son threatened to sleep the time away if it was too boring, when Soulfest was over, both of my teenage children admitted to having a good time and thanked me for convincing them to come! There were so many choices and opportunities! We had the freedom (and felt safe and relaxed enough) that we enjoyed it all, whether we did things together or on our own. My daughter said she’d grown spiritually and found the experience of meeting different varieties of Christians more than enough reason, in and of itself, to go.
Soulfest helped us see that each person has unique gifting and talents… to be given to God in the way we live our lives and express ourselves to others, each person ~uniquely beautiful.
My daughter and her friend made a video to share with a girlfriend who was not able to come; a special gift, a treat to all of us who watch and remember. Soulfest remains an unforgettable experience!
Soulfest was a memorable treat for us. Ater our first night, when we drove all the way home at midnight because our tent was uninhabitable, I wouldn't have predicted that by Saturday we were unanimously saying, "LET'S DO THIS AGAIN!" Not only were we each discovering music and artists we'd like to track in the future, the justice themes kept us focused on the point of the gospel and God's work in our lives. I had my little emotional meltdown in the prayer tent on Friday, and the boys were both able to articulate for me what's important for them in connecting with God. They shared 'not for sale' stories with family and friends. We were all impacted in memorable ways. Thanks again for sharing the fruit of your hard labors with us. Well Done - Christopher PS And our Youth Group did join us on Saturday. I believe they plan to make this an every year thing. (Cambridge, MA)
Thank you so much! I really enjoyed Soulfest 2009! The music was great and I felt a calling from God. I found the NOT FOR SALE campaign to be intriguing and felt that God wants me to help the organization and the people they fight for any way I can. Also I had a great time in the pit. Because of the wonderful view, I snagged a pick from Third Day. I really liked them as well as Fireflight, Newsboys, Thousand Foot Krutch, Skillet, Casting Crowns and Sanctus Real. I got to meet the bassist and lead singer from Skillet and the members of Fireflight because of the backstage pass. I had a blast! Can't wait till Soulfest 2010! Thanks again... and again! - John Carlo (Cambridge, MA)
Thank you for theSoulFest. We had an awesome time there and I felt that I really connected with GOD. It was really fun to be there with my dad and brother and listen to a lot of greart music. I really enjoyed Skillet, Newsboys, Fireflight, and Thousand Foot Krutch, especially the effects Skillet used. I enjoyed hearing about the Not For Sale organization and what they were doing because I really didn't believe something like that could be happening today. Going for the whole four days really made it a full experience. I am really looking forward to next year. ~ Anthony. (Cambridge, MA)
There's just nothing like it anywhere. I'm 45 years old and with 3 teenage kids, my wife and I are so grateful that SoulFest exists. We're certainly coming back next year and you can count on us to help spread the word. The theme, living from the inside out as soul-connected believers in True Love... the revolution Jesus started, is just what we all needed to bring our family back into focus. Your focus on action, loving our neighbors, is simple, obvious, but somehow the context of SoulFest brings it deeper into our lives and we feel renewed. We've never been to a revival before. I've heard of them. SoulFest seems like one to us. We needed this so much and look forward to next year. One of the things I wrote on a heart that I pinned to a wall at the entrance was to wake up and come alive. That happened to me and to my family. Thank you again for all you all do. I can't begin to imagine the work load, the long hours, the risk. I hope you each are renewed and supported. You have our prayers and we will spread the word in Springfield, MA. This event cannot stay a secret.
blessings and hope, Alex, Jill, Shayla, Henry and Hannah.
Dear SoulFest Team,
For the past several years I've been thinking Christianity was actually a destructive force. I'm not anti Jesus, but I really have been wondering what Jesus has to do with Religion, Christian Religion. Many of the Christians I know seemed consumed with putting others down, measuring themselves to be better than others. I have felt outcast too many times. I felt like I had to put on a face to hang around and I couldn't be really who I was. I think I was so consumed with trying to not be judged that I didn't really even know who I was. I went to SoulFest again, third time, because it's about the only "Christian" event that I go to now days. I stopped going to church because I hated becoming so negative about what was going on there, I can't stand failing, I hated trying to live up to a standard that I constantly failed at and know I can never win at. I cannot be perfect, without sin. It's just too much energy to manage this Christian life. My brother, who was with me at Soulfest urged me to write you and let you know how this event stirred me up again and this time to a degree that I did not imagine possible.
I heard someone from the Revival stage say that God didn't send Jesus to condemn the world, but to show the world salvation, to save the world, to let the world know that we are saved. I don't really know why that statement blindsided me, but it did. I thought my salvation was contingent on me walking a line drawn by the Christians I had associated with, by my parents and my churches definitions or interpretation of the Bible. This True Love is very undermining to all of that. I was becoming bitter. I hope you know, you will likely be catching flack from those who either don't want this Truth out or who themselves are too afraid to accept that it is FREE. I have been so self absorbed, so consumed with trying to line up and making sure I wasn't on the "black" list that seems to be a list we all submit names to.
Maybe it was the music, Jason Upton, Matt Maher, Phil Joel, Third Day, and others. Maybe its the way you have great artists playing on different stages, different settings... maybe it was hear the Lord's prayer and the new U2 song from the mainstage.... maybe it was being confronted with Matthew 25, maybe it was the conversations I had with the kid at the Not For Sale booth, signing up for the bone marrow registry, talking to those cool people at the HES and Mercy Ship booth... all that and more seemed to serve as a backdrop to a treasure hunt that began Wednesday night as I walked from the Revival Stage to discover Sara Groves and Charlie Peacock and hear words and music that ultimately brought me to my knees.
Leaving that performance put me in front of those Walls where many had written various thoughts, concerns and prayers. I didn't feel ready to participate in what seem to be an elementary exercise in helping us surface what is often repressed. I took a couple of blank hearts back to my tent, protected them from the rain and thought until I fell asleep what I should confess. Thursday morning I wrote - "I WANT TO BE ALIVE, I WANT TO LIVE, I DON'T WANT TO PRETEND." That was my first heart statement. "IS IT OKAY IF I DON'T JOIN YOUR RELIGION? " was my second. "SHOW ME SOMETHING TRUE. OPEN MY EYES." was my third. I felt like each of my 3 confessions were addressed/faced/answered at Soulfest. What at first I thought was a bit Sunday Schoolish, turned out to be just what I needed. I needed to bring into focus those things. What a great idea.
I noticed that this year was different then last year. Not because of the line up, but maybe it was the space in time that I was in and this special way you all do things. The spirit, the vibe, the lack of religious exclusivity, the Love, the focus on giving... all of that and I'm sure more, made this year unique, made this year profound. I honestly am wishing next year's festival, was only 3 months away. I'm onto a new way of living, a new way of thinking. I am less consumed with perfection and more aware of my neighbor. Thank you for helping me get unstuck. I'm sure by next year I'll be at another place that God will use Soulfest to speak too.
You have my prayers. I know the rain hurt you guys financially. I will send you some dollars and bring a few more friends with me next year. Don't stop. Keep going. Don't let the details wipe you out. I have been deeply moved by my soulfest experience. I want you all to keep going.
thank you again.... sorry for the long winded email, but I needed to say thank you and my brother thinks if I put this in writing I won't yap about it as much to him.
renewed and encouraged
We just wanted to thank you so much from the bottom of our hearts for allowing us the wonderful opportunity to perform at Mercy Street, at SoulFest again this year. We had an amazing show. So many people with such hearts for Praise and Worship. They had a dance line going around the room, and it was so much fun to look at them from the stage and see the joy in everyone's heart. True Witness loves New England, and The SoulFest. You all are where we set our roots, and we will always hold a special place in our hearts for you.
We met some amazing people, and even more amazing bands at SoulFest this year. The Wrecking is such a great group of guys. They are genuine and we so enjoyed talking with them. Remedy Drive, a band with so much talent and such a great ministry. We loved hanging out with them, and hearing them play.We were at a baptism at SoulFest this year. Such great stories, and memories that we will hold onto forever. You have an amazing ministry in SoulFest, and though I can imagine how hard it all must be, you effect so many lives each year, and that just grows from the day they leave SoulFest, and take all that LOVE out into the world. It is an honor to be a small part of that. Just walking amoung the people, you see it all. A blessing for True Witness.
Dan, you believed in us, and we will always thank you for that. God is blessing True Witness with many amazing new adventures. We are heading to Nashville on Sept. 20 for the CFA Word National Talent Search Finals. We were voted into Kings Fest in Doswell, Va. by our fans, and so we are now in the finals for CFA. Our fans are awesome. The best in the world. And most of them are right there in New England. True Witness also made a connection at SoulFest with Winter Blast, and so we will be performing up there in Feb.
Again, thank you Dan for your faith in a small band from NY. We will always treasure SoulFest up in our heart. Hope to see you next year. Can't wait to come home to SoulFest next year. God Bless You Always...
SoulFest 2009, I'll try to be short. It's my second year. Rained both years. Didn't bother me a bit, except, I had a hard time getting a few more friends to join me... whimps. I live 55 miles away, communited in 08, but decided to camp this year and get deeper involved in what I discovered last year to be something very unique, especially for here in New England. I attend a bible believing church, about 800 members, 10 plus years now, but it has become so limiting in my growth. I am encouraged to read your program and hear what seems to be echos of my own heart, my own thoughts. You're on to something at SoulFest and more of use "christians" need to hear the SoulFest word, the message of Good News that emerges. I love the cross section of charities this year. The bone marrow drive, the Helping Every Soul effort, Mercy Ships, Not For Sale is amazing, the Walk for Water is brilliant on many levels. The setting, mud and water aside, is perfect. My camp site was what I expected. A festival campsite... no complaints. The music was great. I don't know if it was better than last year, but it certainly was every bit as good in its own unique way. The artists seem real, accessible, not fake. I love how I didn't feel you did the same thing twice..repeat SoulFest 08. Paul Colman was fantastic. The ticket price I paid, $100 from a person participating in some ticket selling program at our church, trying to get 10 to get 2 free, the price was CHEAP. I felt guilty, until I bought a lift ticket, and meet and greet, and a SF Tee (cool design). I got a few friends to come with me, but it was like pulling teeth. Our church had no real support or reason to get behind this. Maintaining the zombie walk... On the down side....ever so slightly, the food prices where a bit high and menu not varied enough. I did however find a couple of things I liked and stuck with them. Your Soul University is a cool idea, it just snuck up on me... only attended one workshop... so much going on. Great music on the Mountain Top, Revival Stage, and Mercy Street was cool, skipped the mainstage on Friday saw some kids there instead and the late night band, both were really good. Loved the noon worship at the Inside out Stage.... that's kind of when I started my day, then went directly to the mountain top. The days go by fast. I can't believe how difficult it is to get people to go. Some of my friends live within 30 minutes. I know you all lost money and I promise to help as I can. Don't give up. The True Love exchange walls, my time at the Cross, I can't begin to tell you how deep my experience at SoulFest has taken me.... I thought I was a Christian. I read Matthew 25 again a few days ago. I''ve got my program from 2008 as well. I share them both with my friends. I will be in touch to get promotional materials. thank you thank you thank you.
Major Breakthrough at SoulFest
I was going to send you a note last fall, but .... I had a big breakthrough at SoulFest last year. A breakthrough I wasn't expecting at all. I've been attending church for years, ever since I graduate college. For twenty years, from those young single days through the start of my family, I've been involved with my church mostly with the music and youth programs. Every Sunday, is was automatic, my wife and I and kids would be at Church. We had a Church family. I've been attending SoulFest for several years now.
At first it was the big name artists, Toby Mac, Jars of Clay, David Crowder Band and Third Day. (We got PIT passes last year... awesome.) It was a powerful experience being on the mountain side seeing the artists perform and share their thoughts about their faith and their journey. Over the years, I began to notice that this huge gathering wasn't really about a rare chance to see some of the most talented Christian artists, but what emerged was a theme constantly backed by Matthew 25, the same scripture you print in your program every year. (I've collected the programs for the past 6 years and Matthew 25: 1-46 is in each one.) The theme was clearly broken out in the what you call "the SoulFest Pledge." The Theme is, True Love, the Revolution Jesus started. You always take an offering for a charity, you're program is full of this theme to really, really love your neighbor. I nearly missed it. I've been living my life as if God is here to serve me, make me feel better about myself, make me feel content, comfortable, secure, saved. Don't get me wrong. We sponsor a couple of kids from the SoulFest village and we give a little money here and there. However, I discovered that I've been using Christianity as a safe haven to raise my kids and keep my marriage together. It's certainly better than many of the other scenes out there. However, I've become isolated from the world, from my own neighbors. I'm really self centered. I have learned how to keep up the right appearances, hide my "sin" and since I don't even know my neighbors, I can control my home to fit what I like, what we like and not run the risk of being interrupted or called upon locally.
I became ashamed and relieved all at once. We have taken the SoulFest Pledge to heart. Coming home from SoulFest last year, it became painfully obvious to me that in my large successful multi-million dollar budget church, there were not drug addicts, homeless people, pregnant teenagers, blatantly messed up people...etc.... both services were full of people that looked just like me and my family. I was scared that I we had missed the true meaning of the Gospel and somehow bought into a popular brand of religion, one that was ultimately self-serving and full of blind eyes. We discovered that our Church had very little to do with the local poor and most of the mission budget went overseas. We didn't walk away from our Church, but to be honest, I wanted to quit real badly. I felt like I was deceived and the "program" at my church seemed canned, produced to please... We decided to find where the local poor lived and support those charities that were helping them, both with our time and tithe. We began to surface information about the various shelters, clinics, food pantries and charities to our church family and we're seeing more love and support go back into our actual neighborhoods. We've stopped trying to be perfect and hang with other "perfect" people. We actually enjoy hanging out with people that can't hide their imperfections. God used SoulFest to help us live and love locally. The meaning of the Gospel has come to life for us.
Here it is 30 days out to SoulFest 09 and we're spreading the word, encouraging friends to check you out. We're coming back to get charged up, to get a deeper understanding, to fellowship with other believers who have learned that True Love is the Revolution Jesus started and it's a life of looking out for the least of these. (I hope you don't mind me using your jargon.... it really crystalizes things for me.) This past year, regardless of the tough economy, has been the best year for us ever.
Thank you for bringing the Gospel of Jesus, the calling on my life, into focus. See you soon.
your friends in the fight against social injustice, the day to day living of True Love.
Ted, Samantha, Will, Keryn and Julia (Connecticut)
David - New Sound Volunteer 1986-1991
In 1986, we were New England newcomers. Having grown up in the midwest, it was a bit of a culture shock to we newlyweds. I remember Dan Russell telling me how he liked the people out there--they were thinkers. The Newsound ministry always assumed that people didn't check their minds at the door, and I appreciated that. My involvement began when a guy named Mike, who coordinated volunteers to work the various events, asked for our help. Caryl, my wive, and I enjoyed the Newsound paper, and I still remember reading in the first issue about the faith journey of an artist, John Fischer that left the glamour of California to be in New England and minister there.
I broke in my first pair if basketball shoes ever, at Newsound '86, at Gordon College. I never thought I could walk that much and still be standing at the end of the day. Working as a volunteer, pretty much doing whatever I was asked to do, I took it all in. I don't think I ever just went to a concert or event, I was always working. It's what I wanted to do. Part groupie, part wide-eyed innocent, part music lover and just a little part faith partner in the ministry, I gave what I could, and got back more than I ever imagined I would.
The venue was always new, even if we'd been there before. New because of new possibilities. New because the ministry was to the unsaved (or at least uninitiated). New because we felt renewed. But always new. Nobody ever went away without something that they hadn't come with. A promise. A bit of hope. Maybe even a new life in Christ. Or, just a song running through their head, waiting to be reinterpreted at some time in the future. Whether it was Mylon LeFevor at ENC, Stryper at The Channel or John Michael Talbot at that big ol' Cathedral in Southie, the same sense of purpose permeated our work. Somehow, somewhere, God would speak to people through this event.
I struggled a little at times, believing that it was our job to do a good job, and give the artists, patrons and other works what they needed and wanted, but also knowing that ultimately we needed to step aside and allow God to do the real work of salvation, hope, forgivness and change peoples lives.
And change my life did. I saw the widest spectrum of believers, from the cleanest cut to those that would perhaps be turned away from some of the more respectable of our organized religous congregations. I saw, in real terms, the threads that ran through all of those lives. I watched as religious music turned to rock and roll, unsaved performers found a new life and migrated to Nashville to sing about Jesus. Crossovers happened in both directions, usually to a chorus of yays or boos, always from the Christian community. I watched as Leslie turned to Sam, and sung about the deepest of human struggles and feelings, instead of dancing with danger. And I watched as the CCM industry turned into its own megatrend. And it taught me that these artists were all real people, every one of them. They had the same struggles, the same joys and sorrows, and the same shallowness that we all have, at least to some degree. And their lives had changed. Sometimes very publicly, sometimes to loud applause, but always more deeply than most of the rest of us might imagine. More than once, I heard an artist express just how much they felt ministered to, rather than being the minister, when they performed.
All of these realizations and the things I witnessed helped me become who I am today. Still busted up, still way too unfaithful, still a mere shadow of what my Maker wishes for me. Still wishing I had stuck with the guitar. Still fondly remembering taking Phil Keaggy's guitar and holding it while he stepped down off a stage. Still moved by the words of Brennan Manning when he spoke about the Signature of Jesus. And still, humbly, trying to serve my Lord, in some small way. I should be able to do that, Lord knows I had a lot of examples during my years working with Newsound. I think I might not be the only one that noticed.
"His name was Andrew… he was 13 years old. He was a bright, fun loving kid… At Soulfest ‘06 Andrew caught a true glimpse of how much God loved him, and that absolutely revolutionized his young life. He filled out the Soulfest Pledge (you can too, online) and thus, pledged to live everyday for God’s higher purposes of love. He sealed that pledge with a nail, driven deep into the wood of the cross which stands, towering over the Soulfest grounds. Andrew then carried that heart declaration from the festival to his own home and neighborhood. Andrew lived it out, too. He looked for simple ways to better his family, school, and community every day. And, he began to invite his friends to his church youth group. He wanted them to know the same passion that his own soul had now realized. Sadly, his group of pals seemed uninterested. “They don’t want to come,” exclaimed Andrew to his mother. “I just don’t understand why.”
In March ‘07, some six months after the Soulfest, Andrew contracted meningitis and passed away. Despite the efforts of the doctors, and the prayers of his family, he slipped quietly from this life - to meet Jesus face to face. It was hard to understand how a loving God could take Andrew at such a young age… with so much “life” ahead of him. Until… ...the Sunday after he died… A large number of Andrew’s friends showed up at his church youth group for the very first time that night, wanting to know about the Truth that had so taken hold of their friend Andrew. 17 of them ‘gave their lives’ to Jesus, thus picking up the Pledge that Andrew had left behind. From heaven’s balcony - we are sure that Andrew was exuberant. He had laid his own life down the day he had picked up the passion of the cross at Soulfest, and just like the One who had first carried it, Andrew understood what we must all come to know; that life is a gift to be given to others - and that there truly is a God who shows us how that is done. Andrew’s mom came to Soulfest again this summer… and gave us a photo of her deceased son. We took a hammer and nail, a hung that photo on the 12 foot cross beside the main stage. It remained there for the four days of the festival… and remains in our hearts, even now. Let’s raise up “Andrew’s Army” – and encourage thousands of young people to live out the passion of the cross... and as we carry out the Soulfest Pledge, let us also carry the memory of one incredible life – who bore it to the fullest measure.
A Father and Son
In tears a man, his wife and 12 year old son made their way to the cross. The man picked up a nail and approached the pledge tent. “My son is 12 years old and he has never seen me sober. I am not sober now, but I will be in an hour, and he’ll never see me not sober again.” Turning to his son he said “Son, you are going to see your dad sober from now on…” The son began to cry as did his mother. They watched as the father drove the nail deep into the cross, and after the three of them embraced crying for the longest time. One of the cross team members prayed for the family and encouraged them to get into a program, knowing how difficult the road of sobriety can be. The man promised his family he would begin the program that Monday after SoulFest. The three walked away into the night with a new pledge and new hope in their hearts. Our hearts followed after them.
The Response of the Youth
Prior to our arrival at SoulFest, a member of our church (Jericho Christian Fellowship in Middleboro, MA) shared a dream of his with our team leader, Ps. Loren Decker. In this dream God showed him an immense sequoia tree – one so massive it would be possible to drive a car through it - and asked him, “How would you destroy this tree?” Puzzled, this man pondered the riddle for days – and a few days later it hit him. He realized that the only way to fell one of these giants would be to rip it up in its infancy, to cut it down before it had established a firm foundation, before its massive root system had taken hold and its trunk had grown beyond the point of sawing. Our brother felt his revelation was intended as admonition to and encouragement for our team while at SoulFest.
True enough, shortly after we began to minister at the Cross, we sensed how pertinent the dream was. The response of concert-goers of all ages grew more and more throughout the four days. The people who approached our table ranged from the mildly curious to those determined to sign the pledge a second time to those committed to a more radical life with Christ. The youth at the festival were particularly engaged by what we were doing, none more so than the pre-teens who approached both on their own and with their parents in tow. Sure, in many cases our young visitors were fascinated purely by the prospect of pounding a nail into a 12-foot cross and didn’t appear grasp the real significance of the pledge or the nails. Yet there were the rare few who exuded a politeness and sincerity that belied their age, who were unwilling to sign the pledge until they’d read and considered it, who stood before the Cross and solemnly racked their brains for what they might need to nail there. Looking into the eyes of these young people, we saw signs that God is indeed raising up the godly to fight in the next generation.
My name is Tyler Emond
SoulFest definitely turned me to Christ. I was raised in a family who are all Christians, but Jesus really became a part of my life at SoulFest in 2006 when I was 13. Listening to all the Artists and Speakers really blew my mind and I laid my Life down to Christ. I started playing Guitar and singing when I was 10, and having my life being changed by Christ put a whole new meaning to the music I play. I write about things that reflect my life, I listen to and play music that praises the Lord, and I also look at my life in a whole new way. God has done so many good things in my life. I submitted to play at SoulFest last year and was rejected to play. But I called in to order my tickets and they said there was a spot open for me to play. I played at the Deeper Well Stage with one of my best friends, and had an amazing experience. A lot of people showed up for the show, and said they loved it. I have met so many great people at SoulFest, and have heard so much inspiring stories and music. Thank you SoulFest for all you guys do, God Bless you.