Touchdown at Open – Air
By Stephen Govett –
It’s Super Bowl Weekend. The open air meeting in downtown Tempe is about to begin. A choir gathers on stage and a hush falls upon the audience. Suddenly, screaming guitars; booming drums; and the ping of a keyboard – silence is broken as voices are raised. The stage rocks with a 350 member inter-denominational gospel choir lifting up song and praise to our Lord and Savior. People on the streets stop to listen to the voices, to the message.
“This is the type of thing William Booth would have done,” said Captain Mark Sparks, commanding officer of the Tempe Corps and organizer of this open air meeting. Sparks wanted to do something to reach out to people and let them know that no matter who wins “the big game,” Jesus Christ is still Lord of all.
“This is the biggest thing (the Super Bowl) ever to happen in Tempe,” said Sparks. “How could we not use this event to witness to people and tell them about the salvation of Jesus Christ?”
This open air meeting, staged at the corps and located two blocks from Sun Devil Stadium, is in the center of the Super Bowl festivities. Many groups participated by offering innovative and creative ways to praise and worship God. Throughout the evening thousands of people stopped by as choirs sang, bands played and dancers performed.
Highlights of the meeting included the Army’s own “S.A.R.C. Singers” and the “One Way” dance troupe. Singing in a contemporary, gospel style, the S.A.R.C. Singers praised God through song and thanked Him for their sobriety. Between songs, recovering addicts shared their personal testimonies to encourage those suffering with addiction to get help, and get God.
“One Way,” a Holy hip-hop dance team led by Lt. Fred Preston, had people stopping in the streets as they danced to the glory of God. The booming bass of Christian House music told of their salvation.
Brass instruments were traded in for electric ones, timbrels were replaced with boom boxes, and traditional songs were exchanged for gospel and rap, but all in all the spirit and message of the meeting remains the same. “We are here to praise God and to glorify Him, and that is what this open air meeting is all about,” said Sparks.