ST. HELENS — At a prayerful kickoff rally the previous evening, volunteers for the Columbia RiverFest outreach were warned of impending thunderstorms that could dampen the next’s day’s event on Aug. 10 at the Columbia County Fair-grounds here.
“So as I closed in prayer we asked God to split the storm so that it would move around us, but not over us,” recalled festival director Fred Butcher.
God answered that request, said Butcher.
“At the festival on Saturday afternoon, Karen McKelvey from 104.1 The Fish (radio) received a frantic call from an associate in Portland worried about what was happening at the festival, because south of us in Portland it was pouring down rain. At the same time I received word that it was also pouring down rain just a few miles north of us in Columbia City.”
In another confirmation of God’s goodness, Butcher said, the festival took place with all financial needs met.
“Before the rally on Friday night we still had to raise about $20,000 in order to fully fund all our expenses,” he said. “By the end of that night Columbia RiverFest was fully funded. Any funds received after that we are using to bless the local bands who played all afternoon at no cost, providing such a strategic part of our program, and those performers … who don’t receive the big bucks but come simply to proclaim the gospel.”
The result was a successful event that not only drew an estimated 4,000 people to the fairgrounds for a wide range of family-friendly fun and a Gospel message, but also saw about 600 people make decisions to follow Christ.
The festival featured Salem-based evangelist Reid Saunders, “Xtreme” sports demos, live music and entertainment for all ages.
Throughout a drama by the ministry KidStand; motocross, BMX and skateboarding performances; and several local bands as well as headliners Lincoln Brewster and Building 429 lifting song and worship to the Lord, the message of the Cross was proclaimed again, and again, and again. Each time the gospel was shared, people from the audience responded.
“We are so excited to have Reid Saunders in Columbia County for RiverFest,” said John Wecks, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in nearby Warren. “Our church has been looking forward to this for two years. And we know that God is doing a fantastic work here today. Thank you so much to Reid Saunders Association for being a key part of this whole thing.”
“I’m so thankful that we can have Columbia RiverFest here in Columbia County,” said Dave Anderson, a local volunteer. “It’s an outreach program that has been long in the making, and I think it’s outstanding that we can get so many local churches to come together and reach out to our community. Our community so much needs God. For us to be able to come together and put on an event like RiverFest, God’s allowed us to be able to touch so many lives is outstanding. I’m real proud to be a part of this.”
“The message that the music brings, the message that the motorcyclists bring, the message that the BMX people bring, the message that the volunteers bring is so awesome. This town needs Jesus Christ,” said one local youth pastor. “I’ve seen so many bad things in this town, this is going to bring some amazing, amazing changes. I can see it, I can see it in the people’s faces. I can see it in my youth.”
Columbia RiverFest was sponsored by local area churches and businesses to bring the community together for an all-day, free-admission event that began at noon and ran until late evening.
“I talked briefly with Jason Roy, lead singer for Building 429, and he shared that he could not believe this was our first festival,” said Butcher. “He was especially impressed by the number and quality of our volunteers. Of course all praise, honor, and glory goes to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, but He used the sacrificial efforts of our volunteers to do this great work. Without them there would have been no Columbia RiverFest, no souls saved there that day, and no praises raised up to heaven.”
For more on the festival and its results, go to the Reid Saunders Association page on Facebook.