Thursday, October 17, 2013

Magic Moments: An $8000 Oops

Today's Magic Moment takes us back to 1997, and a night that by all worldly accounts was a failure. But God had other plans...

It was supposed to be the greatest day in the history of student ministry at the First United Methodist Church of Kissimmee.  It was a day we planned for over a year, that we poured our hearts and souls, our prayers and resources into, in the hopes that we could make a major impact for Jesus in our community.  This is the story of that day, and how it all went wrong.  Until God made it right, that is....

I met Geoff Moore & the Distance (GMD) at the National Youth Workers Convention in 1995, when we wound up sharing a table at the hotel restaurant for dinner.  I didn't know much about them at the time, but they were great guys with huge hearts for serving God, and I liked them immediately.  Once I began listening to their music, I was completely hooked.  About a year later our Youth Ministry Team began to dream and pray about bringing a major Christian concert to Kissimmee.  We wanted to do something huge for Jesus.  GMD had a big hit with Home Run around this time, and after much discussion we decided to contact their management and see what could be worked out.  We decided on July 10, 1997- a Thursday that was part of our Youth Week. We decided we would host them at the nearby Tupperware Convention Center (TCC), a 2000 seat venue that had been home to many concerts, including Willie Nelson and The Moody Blues.  After securing the arena and setting ticket prices, we knew we needed to sell 1000 tickets in order to break even.  A full house would earn us around a $10,000 profit to use in our ministry.   All systems were go.

Except that all systems were NOT go.  The TCC would not let us sell the tickets, except for a few hundred they gave us on assignment.  This meant people had to go to the box office to buy tickets that were more expensive than the ones we were selling.  We sold ours at church, and sold them all.  The TCC sold almost nothing.  We had also planned to save some money by doing the load-in and set up ourselves.  Again the TCC said no, saying that only union members were allowed to touch incoming or outgoing equipment.  We had planned to advertise on Z-88.3, the local Christian radio station.  Another concert promoter, hosting a concert at Universal Studios that same night, blocked us from running any ads until the week before the show.  We tried to get the word out, but we just didn't sell enough tickets.  By the day before the show, after my final meeting with the folks at TCC, it was clear to me that we were going to lose a lot of money. Maybe as much as $8000. I was very depressed.  Instead of the greatest day ever, it was looking like one of the worst.  I went to bed that night praying for a miracle that my weak faith was certain would not come.

The Geoff Moore & the Distance tour bus arrived at the Tupperware Convention Center around 8 AM on the morning of the show after driving all night.  At Geoff's request, I had arranged for he and a few others to play golf that day.  Jill Painter and friends shuttled them off to the golf course while myself and some others remained at the arena to make sure things went smoothly with the set-up.

Show time arrived, and my prayers for a miracle had seemingly gone unanswered.  A crowd of about 500 showed up to hear one of the best concerts I have ever attended.  If the band was disappointed in the size of the crowd, they never let on, and it did not effect their performance.  They rocked the house for two solid hours before closing with a moving time of commitment.  Even though I stood in the back of the TCC feeling depressed, I could tell everyone was enjoying themselves.  I especially remember that GMD played two new songs from an upcoming album- Only A Fool and Free. Both were awesome.  After the show, the band hung around and sold hats and t-shirts and signed autographs until the last youth had left the building.  Our students were thrilled.  It had been an amazing night.

So why was I so down? I knew we had lost a lot of money and did not have the huge impact on the community we set out to achieve. I felt like a failure. But God was not done with that night just yet.  A man from FUMC-K came up to me and put his arm around me.  He knew I was down, but he wanted to tell me something.  He said that during Geoff's time of worship and response that night that his wife, who had never given her life to Christ before, went forward.  His exact words to me were "Carl, the whole thing was worth it- if just for that one soul." He had just put the night into perspective- God's perspective.  Over the next few days I heard from others with similar experiences. Someone donated a large sum of money to help cover the losses.  I had prayed for miracles, and even though I had lacked faith, those miracles were popping up all over the place!  God had taken what seemed to me like a massive failure and turned it into a Magic Moment!  "To God be the glory, great things He has done..."

Because of Jesus,

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