This past Saturday, we were blessed with the opportunity to be a part of the 2016 Outcry Tour in Philadelphia (Camden, if we’re being technical about it)
I’ll start off by saying it was amazing night, but not necessarily for the reasons I thought it would be going in to the night. Sometimes it’s hard to not get caught up in the hype of the different musicians and bands you’re going to see (Jesus Culture, Hillsong, Kari Jobe, etc.) and you lose focus of the real reason – to worship Jesus with thousands of other believers – which is awesome!
We’ve had the trip planned for a while now, and I was so looking forward to the night. I knew Jesus Culture was going to be there and Hillsong Worship, not Hillsong United. That will be an important part in a bit.
Outcry had announced they were going to be giving free copies of Brian Houston’s (lead pastor of Hillsong Church) book “Live, Love, Lead” away to the first 4,000 people in the doors. Well, I definitely wanted in on that, but I didn’t know if we would make it in time. As we made our way down the turnpike, we got stuck behind a bad accident, and we waited for almost 45 minutes in a standstill. I thought we’d never make it for the books, and as time wore on I was hoping we’d make in time for the start of the night.
Well, timing turned out to be perfect. We showed up about 20 minutes before the doors opened, and that was after navigating our way through Philly and Camden with our dear friend Mara following close behind us (no easy task for this driver).
Danielle and I both got a copy of the book, which I was super excited about. It doesn’t take much to excite this guy.
We got situated and waited for the night to begin.
The night began with members from all the various groups coming out to lead “10,000 Reasons”. What an awesome start to the night.
Elevation Worship was the first group out, and the time with them was great.
And then, Jesus Culture, with a twist. For some reason (we saw on Instagram) Kim Walker-Smith wasn’t going to be in Philadelphia. But that left Katie and Bryan Torwalt to fill in, which probably won’t mean anything to most of you, but eventually it hit me like a ton of bricks.
You see, the last time I saw the Torwalts I was way into my manic episode in 2013. So much so that I drove with my friends to Harrisburg on a Thursday night on a total whim, because I heard they were leading worship at a church down there. It was a literally insane time in my life.
As they led alongside Jesus Culture last night, I kept being reminded of how far God has brought me since the summer of 2013.
Next up was Kari Jobe, and her set was powerful, such an amazing time of worship. One of the cool things was when she led a Jesus Culture song – “Sprit Break Out”. It was clear throughout the night there was no competition between these groups. They were there with one united purpose. Just like the body of Christ should be.
Up next was Hillsong Worship.
I noted earlier that it was Worship and not United. For those of you who don’t know, Taya Smith is part of Hillsong United, and its her beautiful voice you hear on the Oceans track. When the group came out, I saw a girl in blonde and realized that, in fact, Taya was there. So I knew, at some point, they would sing Oceans.
Which also brings me back to how far God has brought me since 2013. The album “Zion” was released by United that year and I remember listening to Oceans often leading up to my manic episode and most likely during the episode itself. Since we were at the beach, I became fixated with the song, to the point where I actually believed that I could walk on water.
I have shared pretty openly about my manic episode with the hopes that it will help other people who may have gone through similar situations, but I don’t think I’ve shared the following part on this blog. When I was in the car on the way to my first ER episode where I felt very urgently that I was going to die at any moment to the point I envisioned myself fighting with Jesus to allow me to stay with my family because it wasn’t fair to take me from them. And if I recall correctly in this vision/dream/nightmare I punched Jesus as part of our “fight”.
You might say, “no big deal, Jared. You were literally out of your mind at the moment.” And while I know that to be true, it’s something that’s kind of stuck with me and gnawed at me here and there. Not a constant nagging, but something that’s bothered me. The fact that during my episode I believed I was hearing things from God I clearly wasn’t hearing and then I fought with Jesus to stay here. It’s been a hard thing at times to get over. To just let the past go and realize that these were things that were out of my control and I didn’t know I was doing.
Fast forward to the point where we started singing Oceans last night. I was reminded again of 2013 and how far God has brought me. I tried to keep it together. I really did, but I found myself just crying my eyes out. And I needed to. I felt God say that it was all okay and that He definitely still loved me, whether I would ever punch Him or not 😉
We also got to hear Eric Samuel Timm speak a great message about love. I read Eric’s book “Static Jedi” not long ago, and Eric and I have connected a couple times through social media, including a couple times yesterday, which was cool to me that someone in his position would do that.
Lastly we heard Brian Houston speak a message about how God uses “unusual” people to do things for him. He uses unusual/extraordinary miracles to work in our lives.
I know what I’ve experienced and brought through definitely classifies as “unusual.” And I know that God is definitely a God of Miracles, like the Jesus Culture says.
Lastly, here are a couple videos I snapped during the night. Hope you enjoy them!
Holy Spirit – Jesus Culture with Bryan and Katie Torwalt