Satan Tried, But He Couldn’t Stop the Evangelization of 80,000 Youth in Tennessee

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Larry Tomczak

Every year, tens of thousands of youth pack the fields in Manchester, Tennessee for a classic music and arts festival. Over 150 musicians make music before an ocean of fans for four days.

I join the team every year with one purpose: share with them the love of Christ and help them find a relationship with Him.

Arriving on the grounds with a van load of zealous ambassadors for Jesus, I immediately encountered three obstacles adding to the challenge of the heat and humidity.

Having lost sight in my left eye and battling vision problems for years, a strange fog-like blockage obscured my vision.

Seemingly out of nowhere, severe winds and thunderstorms invaded the grounds. Pulling into the area, a policeman stopped us and warned us of the eminent danger.

Finally, as I disembarked and proceeded to mingle with gathered laborers, I started feeling sick—why and what was the explanation for what was coming upon me?

Paul stated, “We wanted to come to you—I, Paul again and again—but Satan hindered us” (1 Thess. 2:18). It shouldn’t surprise us when we experience the devil and his minions trying to interfere with gospel proclamation and kingdom advancement.

I still remember at an outdoor Jesus festival decades ago when the weather service alerted the 20,000 gathered on a hillside that a tornado was on its way. As the leaders huddled together to discern God’s direction, we sensed we should do what Jesus did when He rebuked the storm and also cursed a fig tree. The crowd collectively spoke to the tornado in faith-filled, fervent declaration and to the glory of God it reversed course and never came our way!

At Bonnaroo, we ignited praise and worship in our tent and prayed for God’s intervention. A short time later the turbulent wind subsided, my sickness lifted and I persevered in faith for clarity of sight to get on with our gospel mission.

Why Bother?
On the 30-minute ride from the church base of operations (which hosted 100 hours of intercessory prayer) to the festival grounds, I had a captive audience as I encouraged and equipped them on lifestyle evangelism. For almost 50 years, I’ve shared from scripture that the gospel is good news. The method of the Master shows us that sharing our faith should be relational, natural and enjoyable.

If you’re sporadic in personal evangelism, struggle with or have never engaged in the fantastic experience of missional living, I encourage you to watch the free YouTube videos, “Enjoying Lifestyle Evangelism,” to inspire and equip you to be consistent and effective in sharing your faith! Receive it as my gift to you. I promise you there is an impartation you’ll receive from Jesus who said the reason He came was to “seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).

This is a directive, not an elective! We are called to plant gospel seeds in the hearts of the unsaved and remember there is no impact without contact!

If you’re a pastor, you need to lead the way and not pass off this privilege to a “youthful evangelism team” or make excuses that you’re called to study the Word and let others do the work. That’s unbiblical!

“How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? … How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring good news of good things!” (Rom. 10:14–15).

Break with Unbelief
“Can one person really make that much of a difference?”

Years ago, a young, rebellious drug user and pusher went to a music concert and Christians shared with him there. He came under the conviction of the Holy Spirit and left the concert. Shortly thereafter the seed came to fruition, he was converted and that young man approached me asking if I would disciple him.

Today Dr. Ché Ahn is one of America’s premier Christian leaders who recently took Governor Gavin Newsom straight to the Supreme Court to stop his leftist activity in California. Che won the suit and the case is now a precedent impacting tens of thousands of churches and ministries all over America!

When I was in college and playing in a rock band called “The Lost Souls” in Cleveland, my car broke down in inclement weather and a black man showed an act of kindness by giving me a ride and then inviting me to his inner-city church. God moved on my heart and I went and that was the beginning of my born-again Christian life.

Think about it. One man took time to reach out to me in love and, as a result for 50 years I’ve been helping people all over America and abroad with the gospel. I even wrote a book about my experience called “Clap Your Hands!” (now an audiobook free at and we’ve reached over a quarter million people around the world! One person does make a difference!

Our precious Lord Jesus was punished on the Cross for our sins and we are pardoned from the judgment we all deserve. But God commissions us to “do the work of an evangelist” (2 Tim. 4:5). It is “work” and even though we may not be the gift ministry of an evangelist we are all called to “do the work.”

Gaining Fresh Motivation
“I was so lonely. I thought no one cared for me. I met believers around the tent. They showed me how to receive the love of Jesus!”

“I could feel darkness all around me. Then I met the Jesus people and they led me to Christ. I could literally see the darkness cloud leave!”

“I went to church but was religious. Then I met fired up Christians at the outreach tent. I had never witnessed this before. I wanted what they had and I prayed and my life is so different now!”

These testimonies come from Bonnaroo! One year, over 750 conversions were recorded at the event. Multitudes were baptized in water on the spot.

With our nation in one of the most turbulent times in its history, Christians are awakening to our sacred responsibility to evangelize the lost. Legislation and education are extremely important but only regeneration changes lives and can lead to a desperately needed Third Great Awakening!

Here’s the deal: Jesus told us, “Do not say four months and then comes the harvest. Lift up your eyes and look to the fields for they are white unto harvest” (Jn. 4:35).

As I prepare to go to the gay pride event in Nashville this week to evangelize, I invite you to join me in the volunteer army of the Lord to reach people with the transformative message of the gospel. Peoples’ eternal destinies are at stake. {eoa}

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