DENVER – While the nation’s capital and the Eastern Seaboard were rocked by an earthquake and a hurricane the same week, one of the earthquakes that rocked the Mile High City in late August was a good one.
Rock the Range proclaimed a message of God’s love in Denver the same week that significant earthquakes rocked southern Colorado and Washington, and a monstrous hurricane threatened lives and properties along along the East Coast.
Franklin Graham, son of the Reverend Billy Graham, was in Denver as his home state of North Carolina was rocked by Hurricane Irene. The Outer Banks were the first to bear the brunt of Irene as the hurricane moved north along the Atlantic Coast the last weekend in August.
“This love of God for you is real,” Graham told thousands at Dick’s Sporting Good Park in Commerce City, where temperatures in the high 90s were as punishing as Irene. Unlike the East Coast’s tropical storm, Front Range storm clouds were calm by comparison.
“He (God) has a plan for you,” Graham said in the first of several weekend messages. Each was sandwiched between music and remarks from musicians whose lives were radically altered by the message Graham shares.
Brian “Head” Welch, formerly of the heavy-metal band Korn, told of coming to God “just as I am, a crystal meth user.
“Jesus, if you’re real, you’ve got to take these drugs away from me,” Welch prayed as he snorted meth and listened to his daughter sing the perverse lyrics of a Korn song.
Korn’s adulation by fans and the musician’s love of money – Welch’s first check was for $2.3 million – were as intoxicating as liquor and drugs, he said in a videotaped message.
A real estate broker who was working with Welch during the band’s zenith shared with the musician a scripture, Matthew 28:30, in which the Lord Jesus Christ calls to himself the weary and burdened.
“I looked up the words weary and burdened in the dictionary,” Welch said. “I was weary and I was burdened, so I decided to come.
“My heart was changed just like that,” said Welch, who left Korn to spend time with his daughter Jennea, and channeled his creativity into writing of a different kind.
Like Welch, Graham wrote a book, “A Rebel Without a Cause,” after returning to God.
“I came from a Christian home,” Graham said. “I knew there was a God. I just wanted to go out and have some fun.”
Fun isn’t how Lacey Sturm, a singer and songwriter with the alternative, metal-band Flyleaf, described her life without God.
“I planned to commit suicide,”Sturm said in a surprise Denver appearance.
“I was self-centered and selfish. I hated Christians and I hated people who talked about Jesus,” she said.
On the day Sturm planned to take her life by suicide, she reluctantly attended church to stop her grandmother’s screaming.
“I remember a white-haired, crying preacher saying, ‘There’s somebody with a suicidal spirit in the room.’ “
Overcome by pride, Sturm ignored the preacher and headed for the door where another white-haired, crying man told her: “The Lord wants me to speak to you. He sees the pain in your heart, and he wants to take it out.”
Sturm agreed to let the man pray for her. “I felt like the God of the universe showed up as this gentleman laid hands on me and prayed.
“My whole life has been an adventure since,” Sturm said before picking up an acoustic guitar and singing.
Embracing Sturm on stage, Graham said: “That same God who met Lacey in that church is here tonight.”
The evangelist then invited hundred of seekers and counselors to the platform where he led them in a simple prayer, asking Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sins and to become lord of their lives.
Prayer occurred for more than those who responded to Graham’s invitation, including at least one uniformed employee who works at Dick’s
“It was amazing,” said Sharon Herrera, a volunteer counselor who prayed for a female security officer named Elizabeth.
Herrera said the security employee approached her and other counselors, telling them she wanted to pray to receive Jesus Christ as her personal lord and savior.
“It was very emotional for all of us,” said Herrera, a member of Set Free Church in Denver and one of nearly 2,000 volunteers from other churches. “I felt the Holy Spirit,”she said.
For Pastor Joel Hirsch, a youth minister at Calvary Chapel of Aurora, one of the highlights was meeting Graham.
“He (Graham) left a very humble impression that he didn’t want to promote himself” said Hirsch, who was among a group of pastors that laid hands on Graham and prayed for him.
Tucker Huey, 25, was one of six Flatirons Community Church youth group members who drove from Lafayette to hear the message and music of Rock the Range.
Bands Skillet, The Afters, The Almost and vocalists/musicians Lecrae and Michael W. Smith took second billing behind kids band God Rocks which opened the two-day event with KidzFest.
Will Graham, the grandson of Reverend Billy Graham, accompanied his dad and brother to Denver, speaking the first day to children. Hundreds of children reportedly responded to an invitation like the one Franklin Graham extended to thousands at Rock the Range.