Red Thread Movement wraps up summer music festival tour. By Samantha Sutherland

by   |  08.15.11  |  Honors Student Achievements

The last leg of my journey ends this week in Dallas. It’s bittersweet seeing the summer tour end, but it’s also kind of nice to kick off my actual summer break.

 

Our last big festival was Sonshine in Minnesota. It was almost like walking into a family reunion when we unloaded our stuff into the merch building. We’ve been with some of the vendors there from the beginning and ended up being neighbors with our good friends in Rock For Life who definitely helped us get through the week. They also made us some Red Thread buttons to sell, and we had fun during our off hours making dozens of pointless buttons with our friends’ faces on them from the festival program and distributing them.

 

There were a handful of supporting bands there including some new members, Love Out Loud that we are glad to have on the team, they’re definitely full of energy and I love the enthusiasm they bring.

 

I started out Friday morning talking with one of the other vendors who told me she had hardly slept at all the night before because she was feeling very spiritually attacked and she felt the need to read Romans 10 which talks about salvation. God had put it on her heart to talk to someone specifically but she hadn’t seen them yet that morning.

 

A couple hours later, she stopped by our booth with a huge smile. The person had come up to her looking really confused and said that she wasn’t sure what had just happened but she thought that she now believed in God! My friend was then able to sit and mentor her for a while. It was incredible to witness and I left the conversation feeling very inspired.

 

Later in the day, something else happened that was a huge blessing. I received a message from another friend in the Movement who had read  my Warped Tour blog post and had some much-needed feedback for me. He said, regarding secular festivals vs Christian ones, “What you’ve done, by taking RTM to guys wearing f*** t-shirts and to girls who are confused about the sacred nature of their sexuality is –IMHO- infinitely, infinitely, infinitely more evangelical and –dare I say it- apostolic than speaking to people of like mind. Please continue to do BOTH.”

 

His words were so true, and I knew it the moment I read them because God had been speaking the same thing to my heart. I’d had this strange longing to return to the tour, and I’m thankful we got another chance.

 

Our good friends in Flatfoot 56 played that night. You will never see a more bizarre or beautiful display of Christian  love and fellowship than in the circle pit at a Flatfoot concert. Watching those kids going out of their way to take care of each other, barricading a fallen person to give them a chance to get up without being trampled, inventing new moves together, risking their lives to retrieve someone else’s shoe, making a human cage around the woman with a baby stroller who somehow got stuck in the middle of the pit, etc. brought a huge smile to my face.

 

The last few hours of Sonshine absolutely blew me away. It had already been a week full of displays of genuine Christ-like love, but God threw one unexpected twist after another at me as we finished off those last hours. I knew, by then, that this was our last big festival of the summer and that we still had some goals we hadn’t met. I had hoped to raise $900 for Bibles and we were still a couple hundred short. However, that night, we saw a flood of donations. One guy dropped a $100 bill into the donation bucket and several more kids dropped in $20s! Another couple donated $80 for the girls. Still, we exceeded our goal for the Bibles! Praise God! We also had a guy come up and buy 40 stickers (to make a poster Ha ha) and a woman came and bought 10 bracelets and returned half an hour later to buy 20 more to hand out to people she knows! Lots of kids were returning to buy several more for their friends and family back home. Around 5:00 pm, vendors were already leaving, complaining that it was a slow day, but we stayed up until 11 pm, when they were picking up the tables around us, and we were still making last-minute sales even after our merch was loaded! We ended up selling out of bags and all of our shirts except for a few larges!

 

I feel like the last night only reaffirmed our need to go to Warped, even if it was financially a poor choice. We might not be bringing in as much money as other non-profits and we do get excited about some pretty small success, but we are taking care of the flock, however small, that God has entrusted to us and that will keep me going every day.

 

Also, I’ve come to see just how incredible the people that support us are. Our supporting bands help because their hearts are in it, I’ve seen it over and over with them. They aren’t doing it because it makes them look good, but because they have a genuine desire to use their voices and influence for good. Several have made the observation that sometimes it seems like they sell more bracelets than their own merch and, when I tell them to stop selling bracelets for a while, they absolutely refuse. They collectively display so much humility, even though they are in the spotlight, and I feel blessed to know them and to be able to work alongside them. I don’t care how demanding my job can be, I will always feel like I am blessed more than I could possibly deserve because I have the honor of working with some of the most inspirational people I have ever met.

 

Our last run on Warped was exhausting but fulfilling. Any opportunity to bless those kids proves to be worth it and we had some good reception there as well. One guy in To Say The Least came to learn more and ended up sporting a bracelet, he also felt the need to fist pump every time he passed the booth which I welcomed warmly. I was also pretty pumped to get some free drum lessons from the nice fellas working a booth next to us. One of them was the brother of one of the Red Hot Chili Peppers so I suppose he knew what he was doing?

 

We finished up in Cleveland and killed a couple of days in Akron before heading to Columbus. A wonderful church there brought us in for a benefit concert that one of our supporting members, Megan Cameron, had organized. Her family was incredibly hospitable and we had a lot of fun with them. The concert brought in just over $600 for Red Thread and we were able to speak in front of a different audience than I was used to addressing. They were quite sophisticated, which caught me off guard after months of rock shows.

 

My last event, X-Fest, is Saturday, I just hopped on board for it last week. I’m flying solo on this one but will have a lot of supporting bands there to help me out so it should go pretty smoothly!