Winter Jam

Every single dollar matters to a college student. So when tickets for a concert featuring 10 bands are only $10, it seems nearly impossible to say no.

Winter Jam is the largest annual Christian music tour in the United States. Concerts this year began Jan. 2 in Charleston, West Virginia and will end April 3 in Louisville, Kentucky.

The tour came to the Kansas City, Missouri Sprint Center Jan. 24 and Northwest students were immediately drawn to the experience.

Senior Nikeila Jensen heard about the tour from her roommate Madison Hawk who had been to the concert in previous years.

“I love For King and Country… I saw the band this summer at the Iowa State Fair, so I was so excited to hear that it would be at Winter Jam,” Jensen said.

The headlining bands featured at the concert included Sidewalk Prophets, Matthew West, Crowder and For King and Country.

“The Sprint Center was packed,” Jensen said. “It was so amazing to see so many believers praise God in one place. It was probably the largest worship gathering in Kansas City this year.”

Each year, Winter Jam supports Holt International, an international adoption agency.

According to Holt’s website, the charity was founded in 1956 and since then has become the largest organization in the world to connect people to international adoption services. They provide both pre and post-adoption support for families.

“At Holt International, we seek a world where every child has the support and resources to reach their full potential... a world where every child has a loving and secure home,” the website reads.

At the concert, a woman that had been adopted through Holt spoke to the crowd. She moved people to a standing ovation when she spoke about the life she left to find the salvation and redemption waiting for her in the United States.

“I don’t think I have ever heard a stadium so quiet (while she was talking),” Jensen said.

Holt does not just provide adoption services, it also allows people to sponsor a child in need.

Emily Thorton was adopted through Holt International and now works on staff for them. She advocates for children who are abandoned, not because their parents do not love them, but because they do not have the resources to take care of the child.

For $30 a month, anyone can sponsor a child and provide resources for him or her such as education, clean water, healthcare and better food.

However, even those who did not choose to sponsor a child still supported the charity by attending the concert and raising awareness.

Freshman Samuel Pettit has attended Winter Jam for the past seven years.

“The overall atmosphere is full of excitement,” Pettit said. “You can feel the bass drum beating in your heart, the smoke, pyrotechnics and flamethrowers also add a lot of thrill.”

However, there is one Northwest student who had a Winter Jam experience different from everyone else’s.

Junior Sara Burgess was standing outside the Sprint Center waiting in line when Ben McDonald, the rhythm guitarist for Sidewalk Prophets came into the crowd. He stood right next to Burgess and asked if anyone had a passion for singing. Burgess admitted that she did.

Burgess did not recognize McDonald from the band, but when he asked her to sing “Words I Would Say” she obliged.

McDonald then revealed who he was and asked her if she would sing that song with them on stage.

“I was in awe of what was happening. It was a dream come true. I instantly said yes and so we made our way backstage,” Burgess said. “Out of 25,000 people that day, he happened to stumble upon me. It was completely orchestrated by God, no doubt in my mind.”

Burgess has been passionate about music since she was a young child.

“There are no words for it. I had an overwhelming peace come over me while I was standing next to Dave and Ben up on that platform,” Burgess said.

The Sidewalk Prophets first got its start when Christian band Audio Adrenaline first heard Dave Frey (lead singer) and McDonald’s first demo. Audio Adrenaline then invited the two to sing in front of 20,000 people. The stunt ended with Frey and McDonald getting a record deal with World Records.

Since then, Frey and McDonald have been passionate about giving others the opportunity the they were given while they were first starting out.

Although no one else had quite the experience Burgess did, everyone agrees that Winter Jam is something everyone should experience.

“It is an opportunity of a lifetime,” Pettit said. “I will even pay for you to go.”

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