BRISTOW, Va. – Over the weekend, rock music was blaring and thousands of teenagers were pounding their fist in the air and screaming excitedly as walls of powerful lights flashed on stage. But this was no ordinary concert. This was the battle cry of faithful youth fighting to save a generation under attack.
Some 16,000 teenagers on the east coast flocked to the Nissan Pavilion in Bristow, Va., May 11-12 to embrace the culture of Jesus Christ and to be motivated to take back their generation from popular culture.
At the last BattleCry event of this year, teens were passionately urged to use their voice to change the culture from one driven by sex, drugs and alcohol to one that promotes the teachings of the Gospel.
"Do you have a voice?" shouted Teen Mania founder Ron Luce, whose group initiated the BattleCry movement, on Saturday.
"I have a voice!" screamed thousands of teenagers holding up signs with the BattleCry logo and reading "I HAVE A VOICE!"
"Then use it!" responded Luce.
The youth leader shared a story of a youth group that used its voice to change secular culture.
A member of the youth group went into a Victoria Secret store and confronted the manager. "Don't you care about our generation?" he asked. "How can you put that picture in the window? You're messing up my image of a woman!"
The manager kicked that person out of the store and another person from the youth group would go in and complain. This went on 31 times with each of the members going into the store, requesting the manager and complaining. Finally, all 31 people went in at the same time and complained in front of all the customers. The store grew silent as the customers and youth group watched the store manager fearfully take down the photos one by one.
"You guys are good at ruffling people's feathers," said Luce, whose youth organization is one of the nation's largest. "So instead of ruffling your parents why don't you use it for God?" he asked, drawing laughter from the audience.
In addition to music performances and speakers, the closing day of the event also honored two powerful people who used their talents, money and influence to reject popular culture and replace it with the Gospel.
Eduardo Verstegui, a former Mexican soap opera star and boy band member, gave up his career doing secular work when he came to know Christ several years ago because he realized what he was doing was "offending God." So for two years he turned down every project he was offered because it went against what the Bible teaches.
Yet his new low-budget, pro-life film, Bella, has been a surprise hit winning first place at the Toronto International Film Festival and set to receive an award from the Smithsonian Museum in September. It has also been shown at the White House and to the Mexican ambassador to the United States.
"Hollywood belongs to God," said Verstegui, holding his "Shine the Light" award at BattleCry. "We have to take it back."
The other award recipient was J. Frank Harrison III, the C.E.O. of Coca Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated, who among many generous donations to charity has also taken the risk of placing a chaplain in every Coca Cola plant.
Luce concluded: "So when you go to school this week, whose voice are they going to hear?"
"God's voice!" screamed thousands of teenagers excited to impact the world for Christ.
BattleCry, the two-year-old growing initiative of Teen Mania, was launched in San Francisco with a "Reverse Rebellion" rally where Christian youth protest pop culture like MTV and media messages promoting sex, drugs and alcohol. Counterculture rallies have kicked off every BattleCry stadium events which are held three times each year across the country.
Earlier this year, BattleCry events were held in March at the AT&T Park in San Francisco and in April at Detroit's Ford Field. The BattleCry stadium events are part of a larger initiative to round up 100,000 churches to double and disciple their youth groups each year for the next five years since the initiative's launch.