I just had to share this incredible story a leader in Townsville (1500kms from Easterfest) Peter Thomas Hall shared with me about their experience at the festival – that ended a little different to anything we expected! (see previous posts)
Testimony of the
“One Heart, One Mind” Easterfest 2011 Tour
“As Iron Sharpens Iron, so one man sharpens another” Pro 27:17
May you be encouraged by this.
By Peter Thomas-Hall
So where to begin, I wonder, I guess at the start. I have been going to Easterfest for quite a while, it always promises to be 4 of the funnest days of the year. There is the meeting of new friends, seeing friends again at this yearly meeting place, lots of good bands, pranks, way too little sleep, moshing and other testosterone fuelled activities that seem so prevalent at the hardcore bands. Easterfest is different from most other festivals in that it is full of Christians – so anger and aggression aren’t generally seen (which is good in a thrash pit!). The friends and the people you meet was in my opinion the greatest attraction.
Last year (2010) was the first year that I took a group down from Townsville, and braved the 17 hr journey in our church’s 12-seater. It was as I expected a lot of fun and full of memories, and while we were there we met many others from Townsville who independently braved to journey. We concluded when we got back that we had to do it again, and try to organise to go with some of our new-found Townsvillian friends. Indeed, around October 2010 we started to pray for buses to go down to the festival in. Not much happened till February when I finally got a news item up and had an interest of about 8 people. Prophetess Faylene Sparks on a visit called me out the front and had a word for me, part of which was that ‘good things are going to come out of Easterfest, and that people would be saved from it’. I was quite shocked at the thought that this would be more than a fun time. When I was asked for the group name I had originally thought ‘The Knights of Adoni’ but 30 seconds before they asked, God put into my head ‘One Heart, One Mind’. This rang true on camp.
As time moved on, more people joined the group and it grew from 8, to 28, to 35, to 40, to 46 with the final number being 83, from 12 different churches! I had been on the keen hunt for a free bus for several months, and all that we had was our church 12 seater. Our group grew but the means for transport didn’t, which weighed heavily on me. One day whilst sitting on the toilet, God put a verse in my mind, “be anxious for nothing, but everything through prayer and supplication”. Then I thought………….what the heck is supplication?! That evening I handed out forms for the tour at a few different churches, and even though I didn’t need to go to North Reach Baptist, I found myself there listening to a word from Pastor Christian, from Philippians 4, about prayer and supplication. In summary, it goes “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice! (That is hard to do), be anxious for nothing but everything through pray and supplication (or petition), and thanksgiving (I needed to be thankful), and God will grant you a peace that surpasses all understanding to guard your heart and your mind”. After the word I went up for prayer and cried for the first time in several years. God wanted me there that evening to be encouraged in what I was doing. I also kept receiving heartfelt, God-inspired encouragement wherever I went. God indeed wants us to be encouraged.
One week before we were leaving to go, we still only had a 12-seater bus, but I had a peace in my heart nonetheless. Progressively over the course of the next week, transport was worked out, but we still needed more, and 5 minutes before we left we still needed seats for 6 people. 5 people it turned out had gotten lifts with friends or a flight down there and suddenly we only needed a space for 1 more! Someone who heard about the group asked if they could convoy down with us, and they happened to have ONE spare seat! We were off! Well… maybe not as soon as we planned due to the bus being 24V and the trailer being 12V. So after a few hours of soldering 12V lights in series and reinstalling them, we were off again.
Half the group as we left Townsville Me soldering lights together in the dark
The trip down was interesting. We lost the convoy, sent cars ahead, caught up with them twice, got diverted to a different route due to unexpected flooding, and half-way there we had a major trailer tyre blowout. The tyre was ripped to shreds and the rim completely stuffed. We had no wheel brace to undo the nuts to put on the spare. Luckily however, the add-in to the convoy had a wheel brace the right size, praise God! We ended up getting to Toowoomba 6 hours later than we hoped, but by the grace of God we were there!
The very shredded tyre
After setting up tents and eating dinner, we had an evening meeting in our big 7m x 7m marquee given to us by Easterfest. We invited many random people from the surrounds to join us. We sang songs, and as we did the Easterfest co-ordinators came up and filmed us doing so. I then invited a good friend, Laura White, up to speak and give her testimony. She gave a very powerful testimony of how she was going to commit suicide and had an encounter with God. God progressively led her to the mission field in India and she saw many miracles. On her last trip she got typhoid, then gastroenteritis, then tonsillitis, and ended up being in hospital for nearly a year in India. Even though she was in a horrible state, doctors, nurses and other patients kept asking her why she was so happy when she should be miserable. Through this she could give her testimony and many people came to know God through it. The testimony was very powerful and one lady from a different group came to me saying that God wanted her to share her testimony. This was very powerful also, about how God had healed her. Over 100 people were there from many different churches, but there was an incredible sense of unity, “We are the church” was said many times during the camp.
The cold foggy campsite one morning
The Friday was full of fun and bands and socialising. My favourite part was the 8 o’clock morning praise and worship session, it truly was powerful. Around 10:30 that night a friend rushed down to me exclaiming “Pete, there are people getting healed up there in the campsite”, and truly there was! A lady who was in crutches with a severely dislocated knee was talking to a bunch of randoms, and they decided to pray for her. In front of their eyes and a video camera the knee cap moved around from the side of her knee to where it should be! The injury happened 3 weeks prior and could not be put back in place. After this people in wheel chairs were healed! I ran up to my campsite to tell our group. “People are getting healed and there are amazing miracles happening down there” I exclaimed to everyone present. I was keen to get people down there when someone had a bright idea of us praying for Ryan. He had just suffered a broken finger from a wall of death at the O’Sleeper concert (a wall of death is when the crowd separates into two parts and when they say “GO” they charge each other. Very stupid and dangerous, and I wish I could have been in it). Ryan had already been to the First Aid and they said “Yeah, it’s broken, you can’t do anything about it, try not to be stupid in future”.
So it was decided that we should pray for Ryan’s broken finger. There were 20 or so of us there and we all started to pray. After a couple minutes of prayer we asked how it was. It had a little bit more movement and a little less sore. “Let’s keep praying” was the general consensus, so we did. After 3 minutes of prayer, there was more movement, less pain. After 5 minutes, there was almost complete movement and very little pain! “Let’s finish this!” people said. After the next little prayer, Ryan had complete movement and no pain. It is a cool story to say that you broke your finger at an O’Sleeper concert, but way cooler to say that God then healed it!
Immediately after this miracle a 15-year-old girl, Caitlin, stood up and asked if we could pray for her next. She had been in a car accident 2 years ago and had 4 smashed vertebrate. She was not going to come to Easterfest due to the intense pain that she was still in, but at the last minute she joined the group. The farthest she had been able to bend for the past 2 years was to her knees. She sat down and we all started to pray for her. After a few minutes I felt her back suddenly straighten up and her shoulders move back, and shaking and crying she got to her feet. She then touched her toes for the first time in over 2 years! SHE TOUCHED HER TOES! God did an amazing miracle in her life and we all praised God for it.
Next to stand was my fiery friend, Roxanne. She had a lumbar puncture when she was 12 and it left her with back pain since; she described it like a constant fist in her back. I asked Caitlin to pray for Roxy, and my goodness her faith was increased! This small 15-year-old who is still very young in her walk with God, prayed with such fervour, passion, conviction and power that it was truly amazing. God instantly healed Roxanne! Even though Roxy had been prayed for many times in the church by different people with healing ministries, that night was Roxanne’s night to be healed. Roxy then prayed for the next person who needed to be healed, and even though I have seen Roxy pray many times before, I have never seen her like this! God gave her a new measure of faith and she was on FIRE!
That evening, 8+ people were healed from physical and mental problems. We had random groups come in and join with us in the prayer. We had 8 girls that were 15-16 years old, and you will probably know that it is extremely hard to get adolescents to do anything for any period of time. They and the others were praying from 11pm till 2:15am, over 3 hours! You cannot get youth to do that, only God can. They could not stop thanking God for all He had done and what He was doing in them.
Next morning, I went to the 8am service early and told the pastor in brief what had happened the night before. He asked if I would get up and tell everyone, so I agreed. I prayed to God that He work though me when I tell of the events, and He did. I was motioned to get up, and still praying to God, I delivered what happened. The place was packed, people spilling out of the test – at a guess around 500 people were there. As I spoke the response was deafening, and with each new miracle told, the chorus of praise grew. After this, I asked Ben Kurylowicz (my brother in war) if I was legible, “Very much so” was the reassuring reply. After the meeting, lots of people came and our group prayed for more people.
My good friend Ben then rang every tyre store in the city, and all were shut for the Easter holidays. But eventually someone answered a phone. A student, studying, who works there answered and he agreed to change our shredded tyre. Ben took the trailer in and the fellow was horrified to see the condition of the other wheel that hadn’t popped. “I can’t believe that hasn’t blown” he said, “That tyre would not get another 50km”. So by the grace of God we had not gotten two blown tyres on the 1700km journey, and by God’s grace we could get two new tyres put on the trailer.
Throughout the day it was fantastic to share the testimony of what God had done. That evening around 6:30pm, I looked into the sky and started to see some BIG drops of rain fall. “Hmmm, hope this doesn’t continue”. It did. I ducked for cover in a Christian motorcycle tent, hoping the rain would ease up. It didn’t. I shared my testimony with everyone in there and many people were encouraged, and I was shouted dinner and drinks during the rain. The water level rose… and rose, and many youth were running around and sliding down the hill. Though the water was ankle deep we saw people backstroking down the river. There were many items floating downstream, mostly thongs. The roof of the main tent, right above where the artists were congregated, developed a little pool of water… which rapidly became a lake. People started to notice and they all ran out seconds before the roof came down. No one was injured. We had over 50mm of water in half an hour. On my evacuation from the park, I saw Joy Argow, the Easterfest co-ordinator, directing people. “I don’t know how” I said, “but God IS going to bring to good out of this”. Up at the campsite people were in tatters. There was water though all the tents and mud everywhere. Peoples asthma was playing up, which made them freak out, which made the asthma worse. Lots of people were freaking out and going into shock from the cold. “This place is full of Christians who love God” I yelled, “So God WILL bring the good out of this”.
We had many calls from friends of friends offering our wet and cold campers a warm place to sleep. We shipped out the priority people first, and then most others followed. There were a dozen of us left who didn’t want to go to bed, so we sang praises to God for 3 hours into the night. For many people, this was the defining point of the festival. The rain on the radar only pelted a small area of Toowoomba, a concentrated dot pretty much right over the Queens park area. The next day was nice and sunny (thank God!); but most of the main events were cancelled, so we left a day earlier than planned. On the way back home I prayed and asked my beautiful wife Sarah to pray that we all have one last God moment on the way back home. We did.
Wet but happy “One Heart, One Mind” Easterfest group
I received a text from a newly-made friend saying that Easterfest was on the news and they saw me and my group praising God (from the Thursday night) on it! I learned that Easterfest has never before had real media coverage. Even though it is the biggest Christian festival in the southern hemisphere, and over 40, 000 people rocked up, it has never been on TV! But this year, due to the flash flooding, the cameras came in and instead of just the 40, 000 people being impacted by Easterfest, 20 million AUSTRALIANS saw what was happening. God indeed brings the good out of everything for those who love him.
On the way back home, we had one more healing and God increased the faith of us all, even though it happened at 4am. The other vehicles had their God moment as well. Aiden Frewen-Lord’s vehicle had a 5-hour impromptu church service, singing and reading the Bible. When it got dark and before the moon came out, they noticed how amazing the stars were in that part of the land. They pulled over and gazed to the heavens praising God for the wonder of his creation. Lorne’s crew travelled south to experience a death-defying swing built by my brother James, and very much enjoyed the farm life and my parents’ excellent hospitality as well. Most of them want to go live with my parents now!
The crew that did the farm swing
God taught me a lot through all the events and planning of the Easterfest tour. Most of which can be summed up into Philippians Chapter 4. It is so important to rejoice in the hard times, for that is when we truly grow, and pray with thankfulness to God. God for the third time in my life, gave me a peace that surpassed all understanding, which DID guard my heart and mind for this endeavour. That peace and Gods provision and grace made all that has been said possible. His grace is indeed sufficient for me.
May God bless you.