Now, if you've been around me much in the last month or two, you probably know that I absolutely love, love, love this band. They're a Christian worship band from Northern Ireland, and they're really amazing people. They're so much more than a band. Everything that they do centers around Jesus. You can see so plainly that they really, truly love Jesus, and they live out that love. It's not just something they sing about. They have a vision for what the church can really look like--the way Jesus meant it to be, and they're sharing that everywhere they go.
More about that later. :) We found out that Rend's Campfire tour was going to be starting up again in February, so we started looking at the locations. I'm one of those people that's really dedicated to whatever I love, and my parents are great about appreciating that, so they decided that they would drive me almost 8 hours to a concert in Georgia, close to Atlanta. :D Let it be said that I have the best parents ever. ;)
So, we got up early Thursday morning and headed out for Georgia. We had VIP tickets, which meant we got to go to a meet-and-greet/Q and A thing with the band before the concert, and we got first- or second-row seats.
|Excuse the somewhat blurry picture, please. :)|
The Q and A was super fun--we got to know more about Gareth, Ali, Patrick, Chris, and Bobby. Their favorites superheroes are the Incredibles, Ironman, and Batman (and Thor, because apparently Bobby IS Thor :) ). They all love Chick-Fil-A (like seriously, they have a passion for it), and we talked about their standard Chick-Fil-A order. They talked about Northern Ireland and the U.S., and the differences between the two. Then I got to meet them and give them a couple of gifts I had brought with me--a baby gift for Arthur, Gareth and Ali's baby (who Gareth is wearing in that picture up there), a wedding gift for Chris and his new wife Gabriella, and some homemade fudge for the rest of the guys. :)
Gabriella is a writer, and I love reading her blog. She has such an awesome writing style--she can take everyday happenings and roll them out into a story. I really admire that. I told her that I love to write, and she really encouraged my love for writing. :)
|Gabby (AKA one of the sweetest people ever), Arthur, and I. :)|
What's cool is that some friends of mine have a fan page on Instagram for Rend Collective (@thehandmadepeople), and they're awesome people who take time to talk to us and interact with us, so they were super nice and knew me by name. One thing I love about these guys is that they are so not celebrities. They emphasize that they don't want anyone putting them on a pedestal, because Jesus is their center, and it's always about Him and never about them. And you can see that so clearly. It's inspiring to me to see them living out the love of Jesus by loving Him back and loving other people because He loves them. It really just wows me. I think that's why their music draws me closer to Him unlike any other music does.
I got to say hi to Stephen before the concert itself started--Stephen usually plays bass for Rend, but on the Campfire tour he was their all-around awesome person who kept the show going, bringing out instruments and helping set things up. :) Gareth said Stephen is their resident hobbit (and that it's all in the feet). :)
And then it was time for Bellarive, the band that was playing with Rend, to come on! :) I was able to get a front row seat, too, and Mom, Dad, and Luke sat right behind me on the second row, so that was really neat. :)
I hadn't heard much of Bellarive's music before that night, but they were great--I really, really loved several of their songs, and I loved getting to meet them later! :)
And then Patrick came up during the intermission to share with us a little about Compassion, who Rend partners with. Compassion is a child sponsorship program that not only cares for the kids' material and physical needs, but also builds them up in Jesus. It's a wonderful thing to be a part of. I loved seeing how Patrick had such a big place in his heart for this. He, Gareth, and Ali got to go to Kenya recently and he got to meet his sponsored child, Dickson. I think I know a little of what that's like from when we went to China to adopt Luke. Once you go somewhere and experience it--experience the needs and the culture and the people, you can't go back to not caring. It just opens your eyes up to it in a whole new way, it makes it real, where you can't just walk away. And what Patrick said made me realize that the Bible is not putting it lightly when it wants us to love others deeply and radically. I love these verseshe shared:
"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down out lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but as no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth."
-1 John 3:16-18
And then the Irish shindiggery began! :)
|Ali is just ridiculously awesome--she plays the accordion and mandolin, along with several other instruments, and she's just one of the sweetest people I've ever seen. :)|
And then they brought out the banjo, and I just got really, really happy. :D I'm not sure if I've told you guys this yet, but I got a banjo for Christmas! I'm in love with the sound of the banjo. It's so happy and twangy, and I just love it! :)
And a Rend concert wouldn't be a Rend concert without the Jingling Johnny, right? :)
I loove it! I'm really hoping to save up and get one for myself at some point.
|Bobby was being awesome back there, too. :)|
Chris: "This is my ukulele. I like to call it one of the few things that Taylor Swift and I have in common. That and good looks. Don't laugh, that's mean!"
I love, love, love the energy these folks bring to worship. Maybe it's partly because they're Northern Irish and being lively is in their DNA. :) But I think the biggest chunk of it is that they understand how much Jesus loves them, and just how important that is. And they have that crazy awesome joy of the Lord. And it inspires me so, so much. Seeing that in action in them makes me want it more. Because yeah, it was a concert. And it was super fun and amazing and everything. But it was oh so much more than that. It was worship. Deep, but simple. Refreshing. Joyful. Fun. Worship. I love it.
I got to meet up with part of Rend afterward--Gareth, Chris, Bobby, and Patrick. I didn't get to see Ali again, unfortunately. :/
When I met Rend last October, I brought a journal with me, explained how I love to write and I journal all the time, and asked them to write a favorite Bible verse inside. This time, I asked them all to write a favorite quote. I love going back and reading these so much! :)
I loved the quote Chris wrote:
"Joy is the serious business of heaven."
|I have no idea what was going on in this picture, but it cracks me up--I love it. Haha, caption contest, anyone?|
Patrick is really sweet, and he was really cool to meet--I loved the quote he wrote, too:
"Let no man imagine they have no influence. Whoever he may be and wherever he may be placed, the man who thinks, becomes a light."
Mom snapped this picture (she was an absolutely amazing photographer), and I love it. Everybody gave me big hugs. They just love people because Jesus loved them first--it's that simple. They leak Jesus, and it's a beautiful thing to see. I want to live like that.
Gareth is quite possibly the happiest person I've ever met. He really gets what it means to have the joy of the Lord, and I love that. :)
I also got to meet Bellarive, which was really cool! They're a great bunch of people. :)
Sean, their main singer, wrote in my journal to just read the whole of Romans 8. For Christmas, my parents gave me a Bible that has the NIV and Message translations side-by-side (which I absolutely love), so I decided to read Romans 8 in the Message when I got home. It brought such a new perspective and understanding to it for me--I love it!
I also got to meet the lovely Melissa from Bellarive--she is so super sweet! I love the verse she wrote in my journal:
"And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice--the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect."
It was an amazing, super fun, super joyful, super refreshing night. Definitely one of the best nights ever for me. :) And I'm beyond excited, because I'm blessed to be able to see Rend twice this month! I'm really, really looking forward to that. :D
Dad asked Patrick and Chris at the concert back in October what adults could be doing for the younger generations, and Patrick said to just invest in them. And that's what they all do, and I'm really thankful for that. They want the church to be more like an intimate gathering around the campfire--Jesus--than a club.
"The campfire is not a place of social posturing or trying to be something you are not. It's a dressed down gathering of peers who pay little attention to outward appearance. It's all about the fire at the center."
I love being around them because they're just people, but they're people that have grasped how much Jesus loves them, and how important that is, and they've started living that out, and that's reflected in their music, in the way they talk and act, in the vibrant, infectious joy that they have, and in the way they treat people. I want to live like that.
God bless you guys and have a really great week! :)