By Shelly Burke, Editor
(This article appears in the May issue of the "Nebraska Family Times." If you would like a FREE sample copy of the "Nebraska Family Times," e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with your mailing address.)
The Christian Cross Festival, which celebrates its 10th year this year, had humble beginnings. In August of 2001, the (future) founder of the Christian Cross Festival (CCF), Brett Simonsen, arranged for fireworks and Christian music at their church’s block party at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Norfolk. Someone at the event took pictures of the fireworks; when Brett had them developed he was drawn to one in which the fireworks exploding around a cross outside the church looked like Jesus hanging on the cross.
The inspiration of the picture made Simonsen want to share the event so that others could have a chance to know Christ through Christian music and testimonies from those who had found Christ in their lives. The Outreach team at St. John’s worked to make what became known as the Christian Cross Festival a community event. Today the planning team represents seven denominational as well as non-denominational churches in Norfolk. The event itself is non-denominational and everyone is invited, whether or not they belong to a church or even know Who God is.
According to Simonsen, over the past 10 years the CCF has grown in size; currently a permanent canopy is being put on the stage at the park. The CCF now also includes a ministry tent at which Christian ministries are highlighted so people can see what they’re all about. Simonsen adds, “Our focus continues true to our belief that we need to reach out to northeast Nebraska and beyond to share God’s message, in a fun and family friendly event where inspiring Christian bands come and share their message through music and testimonies.”
Simonsen says that just thinking of the things that God has done through the CCF humbles him. He has seen many people—addicts, former addicts, dysfunctional families, the homeless, troubled teens (including a 13 year old who had tried many drugs and alcohol)—come to the CCF to “get away”, just meet with friends, or enjoy a nice day at the park, but through the music, speaker, or wandering into the ministry tent, being touched by God and giving their life to Christ.
Simonsen also saw God’s hand a few years ago when a huge storm was bearing down on the festival, making shutting it down early a distinct possibility. He remembers, “We were all nervous watching this huge storm approach on radar, knowing it was way too big to go around us. As we watched on the radar, the storm slowed down and split about 10-15 miles out and put us in a “bubble” that stayed over us as the storm proceeded to pass around us. Lightning was all around and we were ready to call off the festival at any moment. We decided to start the fireworks about 15 minutes earlier than scheduled and the fireworks from the lightning and our fireworks were quite a sight! The “bubble” collapsed and the rain came down, but not until the last car was driving out of the park. The workers were rained on but they didn’t mind—the crowd was spared and everyone was safe!”
The CCF is free of charge; events will run from 1 pm – 11 pm on Saturday, June 7th at Skyview Lake in Norfolk, NE. A detailed schedule will appear closer to the time of the CCF; this year Allan Greene (CEO/Founder of Life Light Festival from Sioux Falls, SD) and the Passion Painter from Missouri are scheduled to speak, and bands scheduled to perform include the Peter Furler Band, Big Daddy Weave, Remedy Drive and many more. Other attractions include food, children’s inflatables, face painting, and the Christian ministries tent.
People are invited to come and go as they are able and enjoy the park, the music and the speakers and the day! Bring a lawn chair or blanket if you’d like to relax while you listen to music and spend time with family and friends.
The CCF is committed to never charging an admission fee. If you would like to support the event by being a volunteer, financial sponsor, or donor, contact the CCF (information at the end of this article). 100% of your donation will go directly toward the event. Freewill offerings are also accepted.
Have you attended the CCF? Do you plan to attend this year? Please help promote the event by telling your friends about it! Invite them to go with you!
For more information about the Christian Cross Festival go to www.christiancrossfestival.org. The festival is on Facebook; type in “Christian Cross Festival” or go to www.facebook.com/CCrossFest. You can also contact Brett Simonsen, CCF Director, at email@example.com or (402) 649-2317.