It’s hard to really know what brought Rachel into the tent that day. It may have been the oppressive summer heat. It could have just been curiosity. As Joe Hamm, the Promotions Coordinator at e3 Partners was setting up that day, he watched as this teenage girl browsed the I am Second merchandise.
Suddenly, Rachel broke down crying.
“I didn’t say a word. I just reached out and hugged her,” Joe remembers.
She clung to him for several minutes, soaking his shirt in her tears. As she regained composure, Joe introduced himself. That’s when she revealed the burdens she carried.
Between her painful home life and sexual abuse history, this seemingly normal teenage girl was dealing with deep emotional pain. The scars on her arm proved it was becoming more than she could handle. That’s when Joe shared his own story and the impact Jesus has made on his life.
“It was really the first time I had ever shared Christ with a stranger,” Joe remembers. “I also had a New Testament on me that I gave her.”
There, in an outdoor tent at one of the nation’s largest rock festivals, God broke into Rachel’s life.
INTERSECTING WITH ALTERNATIVE CULTURE
With 41 stops and nearly 90 musical artists. the Vans Warped Tour is the premier alternative rock festival in the United States. With over 15,000 guests expected at each stop, the tour will draw over half a million fans, many of whom are teenagers and college students.
At each stop, I am Second will be there to interact with musical artists and concert-goers from across the country. In addition to selling merchandise, Joe and his team are hosting a lounge where guests can rest, charge their phones, and escape the hot summer heat.
Joe explains, “It’s all a public service to attract people so we can engage them in conversation. It’s all about planting seeds.”
His encounter at last year’s stop in Ohio with Rachel represents one of the many reasons I am Second is present. Many attendees are outcasts in their schools. Some actively experiment with casual sex and drug use. Events like the Vans Warped Tour are a gathering place for these fans who find community in their shared love of music.
“We’re all finding satisfaction in things that aren’t fruitful,” Joe remarked. “The youth of today like to rebel and a man handing out Bibles on a street corner won’t likely resonate with them.”
I am Second’s presence provides an opportunity for these fans to engage in spiritual conversations in their own environment. It’s also a chance for the team to tangibly demonstrate Jesus’ love.
Joe explains, “They’re used to constantly being told that they’re wrong. They think Christianity is about pointing the finger and it’s not. That’s not what Christ’s love is all about. The fact we’re in that environment with them is just huge.”
Over the last year, Joe and his wife, Renee have kindled a special friendship with Rachel on social media. They touch base every few months. In the time since their encounter, her life has gone in a completely new direction. She has relief from the burdens of her past and has even found a local church.
KEEP UP WITH I AM SECOND
This year’s tour begins on Thursday, June 19 in Pomona, CA and will continue into August. Joe and the I am Second team will be there at each stop, hanging out with fans and engaging in spiritual conversations along the way. You can pray for them and catch their updates by following I am Second on Twitter or Facebook.