More than 7,200 accept the gift of salvation at Christian music fest

by Chris Lange

Chris Lange, FISM News

More than 7,200 people accepted Christ as their Savior last month during the 28th annual Winter Jam. This year’s 41-city tour, featuring Christian artists and bands, kicked off in Tampa, Florida in January.

Zane Black, a featured speaker who also serves as official tour pastor, recently told that 7,216 people made professions of faith in Christ within the first three weeks of the tour, which will continue through March 26 at multiple venues throughout the U.S.

“Each one of those numbers is a person, and each one of those people are on a new trajectory of life. Only heaven knows the impact that God made in their lives,” Black said. “I think about my story and how that day that I trusted Jesus, everything changed … And I think about all that God has done since then. It makes me wonder what God will do [to] each one of those 7,216.”

Black went on to talk about impactful encounters he has had with people who have attended this year’s performances, including the time that he was approached by a young woman who shared with him that “she had struggled with deep depression, self harm, had been abused as a child, but that night, when she heard the message of Jesus reaching out to take hold of her, she placed her trust in Jesus and she felt instant peace.”

Among the several artists featured in this year’s tour are Jeremy Camp, We the Kingdom, Renee, Sean Be, Thrive Worship, and the creator and host of the annual music fest, NewSong, as well as other top Christian artists. Disciple, a Christian heavy rock band, also returned to the Winter Jam this year following a nine-year absence from the tour.

Like Black, Disciple’s lead singer, Kevin Young, had meaningful encounters with people struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts who found hope in the Gospel message that permeated song lyrics and speaker’s testimonies at the festival. Young said that he was approached by a woman after one of the shows who said that one of the group’s song’s, titled “Promise to Live,” ministered to her 14-year-old daughter who had recently attempted suicide.

Young also recalled a young man who had been waiting at the back of the line to meet the band after a show who told him that he had been struggling with suicidal thoughts but said that the lyrics of “Promise to Live” spoke to his heart. Young said that he hugged the man and began praying with him.  

“That stuff is really special to us,” Young told “ChurchLeaders.”

These encounters underscore what has been described as a youth mental health crisis in the U.S. and the urgent need to reach young people with the message of hope and redemption found only in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A March 2022 report published by the Centers for Disease Control found that 44% of U.S. teens reported experiencing persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness, with LGBTQ teens reporting the highest levels of mental health struggles. The stories shared by Black and Young also reflect an openness to the Gospel message among America’s youth that may surprise some believers but should encourage all.

Winter Jam began as a single show in 1995 but has since become the benchmark tour of Christian music, providing a powerful platform for the Gospel message that particularly appeals to younger audiences.

Black said, “No matter what band or what type of exciting elements are put into the show, the gospel has always been front and center. Winter Jam has made the most important part the proclamation of the gospel and giving people an opportunity to respond to Jesus.”

A list of upcoming Winter Jam tour dates and cities can be viewed here.