In the 10 years of the O2 Experience’s history we have never done two tours in a year, we have also never had a tornado scare while setting up for an event. I suppose there is a first time for everything. Back in January we kicked off the new year with a tour of Florida, and last week we made our way from Texas through New Mexico to Colorado which is where we had the tornado scare.
Hearing sirens go off and getting National Weather Service alerts on your phone telling you to “Take Shelter Now” made sure the trip was eventful. There was also golfball size hail denting cars and airplanes in Denver as we made our way towards the city. Fortunately everything passed without incident and nobody was hurt. If there is one thing I have discovered about serving the Lord it is this: There is never a dull moment. This tour certainly lived up that expectation.
Between the wild weather and part of our road crew breaking down in the badlands of New Mexico — a part of the country you definitely don’t want to be broke down in — and the sickness that spread through our team just as the tour was set to kick off, we certainly had plenty to keep us on our toes. The four events in Dallas, Houston, Albuquerque, and Denver were incredible.
We enjoyed working with the churches that hosted and supported the event, and had fun exploring their cities. The events were powerful and supercharged by the Holy Spirit. Best of all we saw many, many people give their lives to Jesus and an enormous uprising of those committing themselves to strength and honor as they pursue God’s plans for their sex lives. Many who rose up in response did so with much behind them they would undo if they could, but that is what the O2 is all about. Redemption. Hope. Reconciliation. Beauty from Ashes. That’s how our God rolls.
I am so full of gratitude that God allows me to be a part of what He is doing through these events and am endlessly thankful for our team that pursues this vision, heart and soul.
Ten years ago today we were in full swing planning and preparing for what would be the first event called The O2 Experience. I was a youth pastor in Albuquerque, New Mexico and the vision was for a state-wide event geared at reaching as many people as possible with the message of sexual purity. Jennie and I had just gotten married and God had spoken to us (about as clearly as He ever has spoken to me in my life) about this while we were on our honeymoon in Hawaii. We felt burdened to warn this generation about just what is at stake when we abandon God’s designs for our sexuality.
When I say warn I don’t mean just that they might get an STD or pregnant, though those are certainly an issue and a part of what we talk about. In my experience consequence driven communication is not very effective if that is all you have to say. People aren’t looking for rules to live by, they are hungry for a reason to live for. The message burning on my heart isn’t “Don’t sin!” but rather, “Rise up and change this world for Jesus!” The warning I am referring to is that this calling on their lives to shine brightly and reach people can’t be unleashed fully without holiness. Our strength and sanctification are connected. Simply put, you cannot be powerful with out being sexually pure.
I feel not only strongly that I am supposed to give this message and put these events on, I feel that it would be sin to be silent. I feel that God will require the blood of those I am meant to reach from me if I don’t speak up. So for these past 10 years we have criss-crossed the country, from Montana to Florida, and from Colorado to California. The events have changed enormously in that time. Thinking back to the first one in 2004 that we put on it pains me to remember how ghetto it was. (Cringe.) Thankfully, in spite of our rookie status at production God moved in great ways. True to the original vision thousands drove from not only all over New Mexico to attend, we even had some youth groups bus in from surrounding states.
We returned to Albuquerque, where it all started, and had an event in the same room where the first one took place. Very special. Thankfully we have learned a thing or two over the years and the events have become fine-tuned and fully-loaded. The biggest change was in 2007 when we expanded it from just focusing on relationships by adding an explicitly evangelistic focus to the O2 Experience. That was when we began describing and approaching it as “a fresh look at life, death, sex and romance.” From that point on things really clicked. It was as though our airplane finally had both wings and we could take off.
Looking back over the past ten years and the events in all the cities I am blown away thinking about the thousands we have seen give their lives to Jesus and rise up in strength and honor, embracing God’s plans for their love lives. It is humbling to be a part of it and I can’t wait to see what is around the corner—starting tomorrow night when we finish this anniversary tour with an event in the mile high city, Denver, Colorado. Purity is worth fighting for!
For more information about the O2 Experience or to request an event in your city, please visit www.o2experience.com.