It was like 15 years ago we came rolling into Lincoln for the first time. I'll never forget 600 teenagers attending the event at Faith Evangelical Free Church. The next year we had 1,200. The next year we moved to The Pershing Arena. This bomb-bunker-of-a-building has endeared itself to us over the years. It was here where Elvis Presley had one of his last concerts when he died the summer of 1977 and, sometimes, when you're there late at night you get a hunkering for a fried peanut butter and banana sandwich (just like Elvis liked)...okay, not really.
Those cold cinderblocks have been witness to many warm Cinderella-like moments when it comes to changed lives over the last decade and a half. But buildings eventually get torn down or re-purposed. Unfortunately the Pershing is going the way of Elvis. Not only has he left the building but the building is leaving us...leaving us without a place to hold our conference in Lincoln.
Because we are primarily moving to mega-churches to host our events next tour this leaves us in a Lincoln lurch so we are shifting the event to Kansas City for next year's FEARLESS tour. What's interesting to me is that most of those who come to the Lincoln event road trip from all over Nebraska, eastern Colorado, Kansas and Iowa to get here anyway. So now these roadtripping youth groups can choose to attend one of our conferences in Kansas City, Denver and, for those who come from the north, the Twin Cities.
But what I want to focus on in this post are all of the great things that God has done over the years. Students have endured countless snowstorms and ice storms to get here. Youth leaders have packed the basement of the Pershing to get hours of training. This town has been evangelized door-to-door and and store to store. Tens of thousands of canned food have been collected for People's City Mission over those years as well.
Praise God with us for all the things he has done as a result of our time together in Lincoln! And this weekend was no different.God did some amazing things in the lives of the thousands of teenagers who attended the Dare 2 Share Reverse Tour.
Here were some of my favorite moments...
-When Emily, a pastor's daughter, told me that she wasn't going to commit suicide after all. All this week she had been planning on ending her life after attending this event. But here the gospel fully clicked and she counted herself, for the first time in her life, unconditionally loved. Praise the Lord!!!
-The youth leader who told me that he has been to seminary, read countless books and was not a big fan of conferences but that he really gets what we are talking about and is buying off hook, line and sinker into the gospel-advancing ministry model. Amen!
-The girls who told me that they were praying on their knees on a street corner when they saw another pair of knees hit the pavement next to them. They thought it was one of the sponsors in their youth group. It wasn't. It was a man walking down the street who was so moved by their act of public faith that he dropped to his knees to pray with these two girls.
-The prayer time on Saturday night in the Pershing Center. Kids were praying so loud it felt like the walls were going to explode outwardly in a Jericho-type incident.
To be honest I'm sad to leave Lincoln. I teared up more than once this weekend thinking about it. I love my Nebraska friends. But let me tell you what I'm excited about. I'm excited that we now have a strategy that allows us to go deeper into the lives of youth leaders and student leaders both in Nebraska and beyond. By God's grace I'm planning on coming back this Fall to do a deeper level training event for alumni youth leaders (stay tuned) and we are going to be providing more and more training for youth leaders to really live and lead THE Cause.
In the meantime...ROAD TRIP! After all KC has some great bar-b-que and Colorado has some really good skiing.
I'm going to miss you Lincoln. But don't think of this as the end but as the beginning, the beginning of a movement that you launch in your community with your friends. Hit the road once a year and get yourself to a Dare 2 Share. Join us at Lead THE Cause this Summer and let's shake this nation with the good news of Jesus together! And let's all thank God together for 15 years of powerful ministry in the Cornhusker state! Elvis may have left the building but we, if God wills, are just getting started.
What were your favorite memories of the Lincoln Dare 2 Share conference over the years?