Today Billy Graham turns 96 years old! I am so thankful for this humble, bold and powerful man of God who traveled the world preaching on the salvation that can be found through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. His entire life he has unswervingly pointed to the cross with his every breath. His faithfulness and integrity are an amazing example. What a hero. Happy Birthday to Billy Graham–the greatest of all time!
The final stop on our tour was Great Falls, Montana. The city is located along the banks of the mighty Missouri river, the longest river in North America. This impressive body of water flows from Montana to Missouri passing through ten states and two Canadian provinces on the way.
There are a series of five waterfalls on the river and each one has a hydroelectric that generates power, earning Great Falls the nickname “The Electric City.” The history of the city goes back to the Blackfoot Indian tribe long before the United States existed. During the Lewis and Clark expedition began and the Louisiana purchase was being explored Meriwether Lewis was the first white person to set foot in the area that would be known as Great Falls.
The city is also home to Malstrom Air Force Base and the countries largest nuclear arsenal. Thera are 200 minuteman III nuclear missiles in silos all over the area that can hit targets up to 7,000 miles away should the President give the order. I had the chance to visit the base and was filled with gratitude for all the men and women who serve our nation. It broke my heart to hear that Maelstrom has the highest suicide rate of any Air Force Base in the country. We specifically targeted the base as we prepared for the event and made it our aim to make sure everyone there was invited.
The Skull Church event took place in the Mansfield Theater in the Civic Center. It was a beautiful venue and a phenomenal place to worship Jesus and see people touched by His grace. This event was the punctuation mark to an amazing tour. Seeing hundreds and hundreds of people give their lives to God, during these two weeks was mind-blowing and I can’t wait until we get to go out and do it again.
Here is the Skull Church Great Falls lookbook:
The fourth stop on our tour was Butte, Montana. Just as you shouldn’t play favorites with your kids, I won’t show partiality to any of the cities we brought Skull Church to, but I will say that this event was a spiritual highlight of the tour. I had never set foot in Butte and didn’t know much about it before this fall, but while we were on the road I watched a documentary that PBS produced on the history of the town. It is fascinating and you can watch it on YouTube here.
In case you don’t have an hour to spare, here is the dime version: Butte was a mining boom-town. It was predominantly silver that was mined here until the advent of electricity–when they discovered that the ground was rich with copper that was increasingly in demand–and wires began to be strung from building to building from coast to coast. They could hardly dig the stuff out of the ground fast enough to keep up with the insatiable appetite for it. At one point copper from Butte was used around the nation more than from any other mine.
The population exploded as people from all over the world descended on the city. At one point the “no smoking” signs in the mines had to be printed in 16 different languages because the miners were so culturally diverse. The night life ran to keep up as well. The city was home to a booming red-light district with a brothel that is reportedly America’s “longest running house of prostitution.” At one point Butte was the largest city west of the Mississippi, a place prospering so much it was dubbed, “the richest hill on earth” and referred to as Butte, America. (As opposed to Butte, Montana because it was such a hip, cosmopolitan place)
All that came crashing down when mining was stuttered in 1982. The same year I was born the activity that gave the city its identity dissolved suddenly into thin air. Today Butte is a shadow of what it once was. Where there used to be 100,000 people living here, today the population is a third of that size. It is certainly no ghost town, but the evidence of different days gone by are everywhere you look and they say that it is shrinking faster than any city in the state.
We had the event at the historic and beautiful Motherlode, a theatre with a past as storied as the city itself. As the crowd arrived and I prepared to speak, I felt so much love welling up in my heart from the Lord. Speaking to one of the local pastors I heard that many young people crack that, “happiness is seeing Butte in your rearview mirror.” I felt such a sense of assignment as I preached to tell them that leaving this city might just be what they are supposed to do, but if they leave to fill a hole inside them they will bring their problems with them wherever they go.
I hope the Lord gives us the opportunity to return to Butte and do ministry again soon, because it was such a joy to watch people find something far better than silver or gold in a relationship with Jesus. Regardless of what is or isn’t happening in the city economically, in God’s heart, the glory days for the people who live there are not in the past but are yet to come.
Here is the Skull Church Butte lookbook:
Our third stop on the tour was the capital of Idaho–Boise. This was the third state capital we have done an event in. (The other two being Helena and Denver) And the Egyptian Theater, where we had Skull Church, sat downtown just a few blocks away from the Idaho State Capitol Building. The Egyptian is this rad, super kitschy historic venue that was originally called the Fox but was garishly done over with over-the-top egyptian-swagger to commemorate the discovery of King Tut. It feels like you are on the movie set of The Mummy. Things to check off my bucket list: Preach under an enormous, golden scarab beetle.
I love Boise. In the last few years it has become one of my favorite cities to visit and I like it more each time I spend time in the city. From the downtown with a big-city feel and the University with it’s much loved Broncos stadium to the river that runs right through town and mountains within striking distance you have the perfect blend of urban and outdoors. There are killer restaurants, and a lot going on. From what I can tell, the people that call Boise home are laid back, easy going and not super high strung. In my estimation the quality of life is good in this gem of a city that comes across as much less imposing than a city of it’s size often does.
We saw God do a great work and many were impacted by the love of Jesus. I pray that all the churches that participated in the event will continue to grow and take new ground in this awesome city.
Here is the Skull Church Boise lookbook:
The second city we came to on our autumn Skull Church tour was Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. This event was mysterious going into it. I had never set foot in the city before and had no idea how insanely beautiful it is or how the event would be received. I was blown away by both. The city is situated on the shore of Lake Coeur d’Alene which explains it’s nickname as the Lake City. I must admit I was relieved to discover that it also goes by CDA which helped me out greatly until I mastered the correct way of spelling Coeur d’Alene–no small feat!
CDA is the largest city in the Idaho panhandle and after Boise it has the biggest population in the state. The churches that supported the event were great and showed up to serve with flying colors. I was told by one of the pastors that a number of them had been getting together to pray leading up to the event, and that makes all the difference in the world. When the event kicked off the Schuler Performing Arts Center was packed and the atmosphere was electric. It was probably the most energetic crowd of the whole tour. The response to the invitation was extraordinary, people streamed down the aisles to give their lives to Jesus; and I am praying that they all get plugged into the churches in the area as they grow in their new relationships with Jesus!
I also had one of the best pizza experiences of my life at a little spot downtown. I can’t remember the name of the joint but my pizza came with sriracha on it and everyone knows that rooster sauce takes everything to the next level. Until next time CDA!