The Great Jesus Rally in Dallas
I still remember that summer. I was 20 years old and me and five of my Jesus freak buddies drove all the way to Dallas, Texas to a huge week-long gathering of young Christians. The event was organized by Campus Crusade for Christ and they named it "Explo-72". It was to be an explosion of young Christians to the world.
It was awesome. There were 50,000 of us. Every night we'd all gather in the Cotton Bowl to hear speakers like Billy Brite from Campus Crusade for Christ, or Billy Graham speak about our mission to change the world. Every seat was filled.
It was 1972. Our goal was to witness to every citizen of the United States by 1976 and to every citizen of the world by 1980. At night we'd have our big, loud rallies. But during the daytime all 50,000 of us would converge on the Dallas-Ft.Worth area and practice witnessing door to door about the good news of Jesus Christ.
I remember practicing my presentation over and over to myself. "Hello. I wonder if you've got a few minutes to talk about Jesus. Did you know that Jesus has a plan for your life?"
A lot of doors were shut in my face that week. But the rallies every night would energize me for the next day. One night all 50,000 of us held candles while we sang the words to "Pass It On". I still remember the lyrics.
"It only takes a spark, to get a fire going.
And then all those around, can warm up to it's glowing.
That's how it is with God's love, once you've experienced it.
You'll spread his love, to everyone.
You'll want to pass it on."
To see 50,000 flickering candles was an awesome experience to say the least. We shouted "PRAISE GOD!! PRAISE GOD!! Over and over.
The following Saturday me and my buddies left Dallas and headed back home to North Carolina along interstate 40. On the back bumper of my 1967 Pontiac Firebird was a sticker that said, "Honk if you love Jesus". Other young people heading home from the rally would pass us waving and honking their horns.
But then about halfway home my car broke down outside a small town about 20 miles west of Memphis. We ended up checking in at a motel while the car was being worked on at a local garage. It turned out that the engine block was cracked and it ended up costing me 400 bucks to get it fixed. I kept wondering why Jesus would let something like that happen to us.
We finally got home two day later. And then we began witnessing to people in our own neighborhoods. It was a disaster. Nobody wanted to hear about God's plan. The witnessing was a huge failure. The rest of the summer got even worse. One problem was followed by another. I attending services three times a week at Calvary Baptist Church and prayed for hours every day. But few of my prayers were being answered. Where the hell was God?
By Labor Day my life was really begining to suck. I figured that God was testing me but that somehow I was failing the test. I figured I was doing something terribly wrong but I couldn't figure out what it was. By October 1972 I had spiraled into a deep depression and could barely cope. One afternoon I decided to kill myself.
I sat on my bed with my dad's pistol and contemplated putting it to my head and pulling the trigger. But then I decided to fuck the Jesus bullshit. It wasn't worth it. I decided to go back to life the way it was before I ever heard of Campus Crusade for Christ.
So I went back smoking weed, playing pool, and raising hell with some of my college buds.
That was 36 years ago.
As the years passed another two of my Jesus freak buddies ditched the Jesus bullshit too. They couldn't handle it either. And apparently neither could thousands of others who attended that great Jesus Rally in the summer of '72. As energized as we were that summer, we never reached our goal of witnessing to everybody in America by 1976 or to the world by 1980.
In the mid 80s I finally gave up weed. Twenty years later in 2006, I finally gave up God completely.
I still see my old buddies. We're all in our mid-fifties now. Three of the six have remained Christians but are struggling to cope with life. Of the Christian buddies, two have gone through bitter divorces. One is still married with a family and is a Sunday school teacher in a fundamentalist Baptist Church in Gerogia. All three are suffering with major health problems. One is being kept alive by a pace-maker. Another one has serious back problems and diabetes. The third one got drunk and fell last October and is now paralyzed from the neck down. They all still pray for miracles that never come.
My other two buddies are agnostics. I'm the atheist. About once a month they drop by the house and the three of us hang out and drink beer and watch the ball game. Sometimes we still laugh about our Jesus freak days and our plan to change the world during that summer so many years ago.
We were all so young.
Frosty's coming back someday. Will you be ready?