More than 2,000 people line up in Williamsport to hear the Newsboys

April 09, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER |

WILLIAMSPORT — The line stretched along the parking lot, around the building and doubled back again.

Those at the back of the line could barely believe how many people they had just walked past.

While those at the front had been there since at least 4 p.m., some had been there even earlier.

By 5:55 p.m., they were chilly, tired and ready to rock.

More than 2,000 people lined up Saturday in Williamsport to hear one of contemporary Christian music's most popular bands, the Newsboys, rock Gateway Ministries with Kutless, Disciple and Carlos Whittaker.

Part of its "The Born Again Experience" tour, the band packed a nearly soldout crowd for the show.

"I am a big Newsboys fan, from back when," said Pam Bass of Martinsburg, W.Va. "Favorite song? I love all of them, I love concerts, I love this music. I am a huge fan of contemporary Christian music."

Gateway Ministries worked with promotion firm D.C. Concerts out of Washington, D.C., to bring "The Born Again Experience" to Williamsport, said Jason Matthews, worship pastor and creative producer for Gateway Ministries.

The tour was presented by Compassion International, a Christian child advocacy ministry that, according to its website, releases children from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enables them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults.

Some fans, like Matthews, remember the Newsboys from the 1990s, when they first rose to the top of the Christian music charts with songs like "Shine," "Let it Rain" and "Breakfast."

But many of the favorites fans were singing before the concert started were off the band's latest album, "Born Again."

Despite having a decades-long legacy in the music industry, it is still the message of the music that draws in Newsboys fans.

"Not only are they Christian bands, and they sing songs about the faith and they obviously believe in Jesus Christ, but they rock!" Matthews said.

"It just gives me a really good spirit inside," said Denise Cavender of Smithsburg.

"It's hard to describe," Aleah Backstrom, 15, of Berkeley Springs, W.Va., said of what draws her to the music.

"You get to worship," her friend Alyssa Bailey, 17, of Berkeley Springs, chimed in.

"It's a blessing, a gift," Bass said of the music.

For Matthews, stoked was the word to best describe the atmosphere created Saturday by music that worshipped God.

"You've got believers on your left, you've got believers on your right, and we're here to rock for Jesus Christ and lift up his name," he said. "So yeah, I'm stoked."

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