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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Salvation Bonnaroo Style

By Cheryle M. Touchton
The Pocket Full of Quarters Lady

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Ps 139:14 NIV

For most of my life, I worked hard on music. I studied with the best teachers, practiced, and even got a degree in it. There was only one problem – I was not gifted musically and training only goes so far without that gift. What that meant was that I recognized talent, taught the talented, but always knew what I was lacking. The music world is competitive and musicians usually know where they stand in comparison to other musicians. I loved teaching music and was confident with the spiritual gift of teaching, but because I wasn’t musically talented, no matter how much I practiced, I always felt insecure.

A few years back, God dealt with my insecurities and taught me to nurture and appreciate the gifts He blessed me with and accept the gifts and talents He did not send my way. Since I was born into a family of musicians and had spent most of my life around musicians trying to be one, it was both painful and a relief to step out of the musical competitive whirl wind. At Bonnaroo, the enemy tried to hand me back my insecurities and use them to stop me from leading a group of young people to Jesus.

Louise Milligan and I were walking back to our car with the leader of our evangelism team, Rev. Ron Fuller – The Sojourner. It was the last day of the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. It had been a good day with 16 people praying to receive Jesus. We were hot, exhausted, and ready to get back when we heard strains of the song, “Take Me Back to West Virginia.” Ron is from West Virginia and couldn’t resist weaving his way between tents to find the music. They finished just as we walked up.

“I’m from West Virginia,” Ron said. Then, using his best imitation of an old man’s voice, he pleaded, “Sing it again for an old man.” They complied and we sang along.

While we sang, I looked at the 12 young people sitting and singing under an open-sided tent. One was playing guitar and another, a harmonica. Three young women, dressed in bikinis, were puffing on pot out of what I now know is a pot bowl. Most had beer cans in their hands. One young man was wearing a bathing suit and two shells strapped across his chest. His girlfriend complained the entire time that he had eaten all of her “mushrooms.” I knew they weren’t talking about portabellas. According to the girlfriend, 7 grams of mushrooms was too much for him to eat and his punishment was to walk around wearing the shells. I prayed for them as we sang.

When we finished singing, Ron stepped behind me, and quietly instructed, “Now, add them to your number.”

I knew what he meant. I stepped forward, used my “outside voice” and said, “You were kind enough to sing for us so I want to tell you about Jesus.”

They were in a great mood. They clapped. One shouted, “Yea Jesus.” I kept it light and fast paced. “The Bible says all have sinned. Sin is the Bible word for making mistakes. Anyone sinned this weekend?” I paused as they laughed, agreeing they knew all about sin.

“It is a level playing field,” I said. “We’re all sinners. The wages of sin is death but the good news is that the gift of God is eternal life. All who call on the name of the Lord will be saved. Jesus loved you so much that He died for you. I want to lead all of you in a prayer to invite Jesus to be your personal Lord and Savior.”

They looked at each other, hesitated, and one shouted, “We’ll pray it if you sing it. This is Bonnaroo.”

I stuttered and froze. I’d already noticed that at least four of this crowd was gifted musically. I thought about Ron and Louise standing behind me and knew that while I’d probably never see these young people again, I’d have to go home with Ron and Louise knowing how my music compared to the gifted musicians we’d just heard. Louise is my sister-in-law and I’d been her son’s piano teacher. If I sang, I was afraid she was going to find out just how untalented I really was. The familiar musical shame crept into the marrow of my bones. Then, I got mad that the enemy was using it against me.

“Ok,” I said, shaking off the bad feelings. “I’ll sing a line and you repeat it back to me.” They all cheered.

“Dear Jesus,” I sang and waved my arms for them to repeat it back. They sang the words back.

“Thank you for dying for me.” They cheerfully sang each line as I sang through confessing faith in Jesus, admitting sin, asking for forgiveness, and finally, asking Jesus to be their Lord and Savior.

My internal music teacher critiqued as I sang and I was vaguely aware that my melody line made no harmonic sense and that I changed keys at least 3 times. I must have had some kind of rhythm because they clapped as we sang.

When we finished, I said to the now quiet group, “There are 12 of you sitting here. How many of you really sang the words and meant them?” Nine raised their hands. I added nine to our count, making the total of 78 for me and 98 for our entire group.

Later, Louise and Ron said it was great, that I’d gotten quiet at all the right moments. “They clapped along,” Louise said in wonder.

I knew what my musical grade really was but also knew that evangelism is a spiritual gift and that spiritual gift had carried the moment. The harvest was ripe. No wonder the enemy was throwing old insecurities back into my face! I am beautifully and wonderfully made and the gifts God gave me are enough to do what He calls me to do. I tossed those insecurities right back at the enemy. They don’t belong to me.
Cheryle M. Touchton is the Director of Pocket Full of Change Ministries. This ministry exists because people like you are called to help fund the work of the kingdom. To help keep the Pocket Full of Quarters Lady on the road leading people to Christ, you can donate at


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