The seventeenth annual Bonnaroo music festival concluded recently an hour from our home. This event draws people nationwide to a field in Manchester, Tennessee for four days of music, drugs, drunkenness and debauchery.
In 2015, more than 80,000 were in attendance. This year over 65,000 gathered together in the field to resurrect this "Woodstock" experience.
Should Christians "flee to the hills" or is this an opportunity for outreach, in of all places an open field?
"But when He saw the crowds, He was moved with compassion for them, because they fainted and were scattered, like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, 'The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest, that He will send out laborers into His harvest' "(Matt. 9:36-38).
If the over 400 dedicated Christian "laborers" hadn't responded, the 750 people converted at this year's event (plus scores who had gospel "seeds" planted in their hearts) would never have experienced a radical transformation by the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The term "Bonnaroo" comes from Creole slang meaning "a really good time." Even though attendees pay hundreds of dollars for a four-day pass, it all seems worth it to those escaping into the euphoric environment of a faraway field for almost nonstop music, comedy acts and even witchcraft.
Some of the notables who have performed include U2, Eminem, Bob Dylan, Kanye West, Bruce Springsteen and the Beastie Boys.
The "hands off" approach of security affords the opportunity for drug usage, immodesty, profanity and promiscuity. Impressionable children are everywhere since many believe this to be a family camping experience.
The content of the gospel never changes. Strategies for connecting creatively and effectively with every generation require "wisdom from above."
Under the banner of "Love Bonnaroo," Christians came together from churches and ministries to engage in intercession, worship and creative evangelism. My friend, Bob Perry, coordinated intercessory prayer for extended periods before the event and during the four-day period.
After the saints prayed for favor, the proprietor reduced the $5000 site fee for ministry tents to $1000! He liked what was planned for festival-goers passing by on their way into the festival.
Tents with these banners attracted curious passersby hearing the dynamic worship:
- Spiritual Readings
- Dream Interpretation
- Praise With Prophetic Songs
- Holistic Healing
- The Father's Blessing
- Personalized Face Painting
- Prophetic Prayer
My wife and I engaged with other committed intercessors in prayer "covering" during the event and reveled in the results as leaders gathered in our home afterwards to share thrilling testimonies and watch a video of what God did.
Nashville leader Jerry Bryant was so overjoyed that he said, "It felt like we were back in the Jesus Movement!" He's a veteran of that awakening and knows firsthand of what he speaks.
Scott and Sara MacLeod, who lead Nashville's Thunder School of Ministry, were amazed at the spiritual hunger so evident among the people. They exclaimed, "It was like fish jumping into the boat!"
At the vortex of the main staging area, people described feeling "a sense of evil... darkness." The drugs, drunkenness, sensuality and scantily clothed revelers caused people to admit experiencing an overall sense of "heaviness."
As people drifted into the area of worship and compassionate gospel sharing, numbers of participants remarked, "This is a different atmosphere! It feels clean and light."
One girl high on drugs fell into a ditch near the ministry tents. After the Christians rescued her, she received a personalized prophetic song. We watched a video of her melting, feeling overwhelmed by the love of Jesus. Subsequently she heard the gospel, wept and came to faith in Jesus, making Him her Lord and Savior. The team also prayed for her to receive the infilling of the Holy Spirit. After she returned to her friends transformed, they came by the tents to find out what had changed their friend!
One young girl walking with her dad entered the "Personalized Art" tent for face painting after being warmly invited by a greeter. The father agreed to her getting painted as he stood by observing.
Aglow after her experience, the little girl pled with her dad to get his face done. After a number of her pleas he reluctantly yielded.
After the first swipe of paint under his eye, Maddie, the prophetic artist, whispered to him, "God sees you as a good father." Upon hearing this, a tear trickled down his cheek.
After the second swipe, Maddie whispered, "God sees you as one who does not quit."
The man's hardened heart softened. Slowly he succumbed to tears.
His little girl said, "Daddy, what's wrong? Are you OK?"
He reassured his daughter then confided to Maddie, "Today was my last day with my family. I was planning to walk out today and leave them forever. I want you to know that I am going to stay. You saved my family!"
Scripture records in Malachi 4:6,"He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse."
The prior verse foretells of this Elijah-type ministry coming before the "great and dreaded day of the Lord" (v. 5). Let's all see ourselves as part of this end-time ministry stirring God's people to be His ambassadors, even if it be in a remote field like at Bonnaroo.
"Do you not say, 'There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest.' Listen! I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest" (John 4:35).
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