Freedom Festival

Every year for the past five years, Sherwood has invested in an event known as the Freedom Festival. We host this event at our 82-acre Sports Park and Sherwood Christian Academy. Each year we see thousands coming for food and fun to celebrate our freedom.
Even though we had a two-hour rain storm with severe lightening, we still had 7,000 folks attend this year. The event features everything from a Wild West Show, horseback riding, fishing, concerts, games for kids, a cake walk and more.
This year we added the element of presenting the gospel in a clear and concise manner. In previous years we’ve celebrated God and country and had someone share a brief testimony. We considered the event to be a “pre-evangelism” event where we wanted to open our campus and our hearts to the community so we could “earn the right” to share the gospel.
This year we were very intentional. We featured the Marine Corps Brass Band, a high school drumline, a church youth choir, and the Sherwood Choir and Orchestra. Then we added the preaching element by inviting Scott Dawson, a nationally known speaker often heard on the Rick and Bubba radio show, to share at the event.
Scott spoke on the love of God from John 3:16. He started by asking the question “Who here is in love? Who wants to be loved?” His message was based on grace and was as loving as any gospel presentation I’ve ever heard. At the end of the presentation, 55 people came to saving faith in Jesus Christ. Another 20 registered other decisions. These were “walk forward and talk to a counselor” decisions, not just “raise your hand” decisions. These folks walked through a crowd of thousands to come to the altar. They came from all ages and races. Many were in tears. It was a God-moment many of us will long remember.
It shouldn’t surprise you to know that our local paper, which runs a special section for people to rant, had a few critical statements about the event. This is the column where people can vent about anything and anyone without signing their names. It should be called “The Cowards and Critics Column” because that’s all it is. Nothing good comes out of it. It doesn’t build up our city because it’s typically used to tear down a person or an event.
On top of that, the event is free. The only thing people pay for is food from the venders. They get a 20-minute fireworks show, free parking, free admission, and free activities. For us, the event is free and the gospel is free. What more could you ask for?
Apparently someone who attended considered John 3:16 and a message on the love of God to be “hatred and intolerance.” Go figure. Evidently we’ve reached the stage in this nation where the only “hatred and intolerance” is toward Christians who want to share with people the love of God.
Let’s be real. The gospel is offensive. The cross is offensive. But the love of God is not offensive. In a world where people are looking for love in all the wrong places, what better place to find it than at the cross? The cross is divisive, but at the same time it reconciles sinners to God. The cross is offensive, because I have to admit I’m a sorry, no good sinner who deserves to go to hell for my sin.
One critic said “What a message to our young people.” But in reality, it’s the best message for our young people—they need to know Jesus. It’s giving them a message of hope in a world of crime, divorce, gangs, alcohol, and post modern confusion. It’s giving them a reason to live.
People are free to disagree. That’s what’s great about this country. Let’s just pray that in this country we’ll be free to continue to share the gospel. Political correctness and the whims and winds of tolerance are moving in a direction where that could one day be illegal. Maybe not in my lifetime, but certainly in the lifetime of our children.
Just a word of warning: If you watch one of our movies through Sherwood Pictures, if you visit Sherwood Baptist Church, or if you attend one of our events, you are going to hear the gospel. It’s not our job to convince you that it’s true. It is our commission to tell you the truth. Then the choice is yours. God is sovereign in salvation. Man is responsible if he rejects the Savior. It’s that simple. God has left man free. If a person chooses to reject the love of God, they will face the judgment of God in a place called hell.
Don’t get mad at me, I’m just delivering the message of the Scriptures. If that bothers you, take it up with the God who loved us enough to give us John 3:16.

2 thoughts on “Freedom Festival

  1. Michael,

    Isn’t it amazing that the same people who accuse Christ followers of “hatred and intolerance” are actually the ones committing the same offense? The enemy has blinded them to this, they see only our short comings and not theirs. How sad. Why is it that in a country of 260 million people, a country that is still democratic (for now) do we give power to the few. In my family we take votes as to where we want to eat or go or whatever, and the majority rules. If you get defeated, too bad. Maybe next time you’ll get to do what you wanted to do. Honestly, why is so much time and resources wasted on trying to be “politically correct” and not offending anyone. Jesus offended thousands wherever he went. I think it’s time to start offending, telling the truth, openly sharing our testimomy. Keep doing hard things. I can’t wait to here the Lord say ” Well done “.
    Jeff Rawlins
    Vancouver, WA

  2. Good Morning Michael: Our local newspaper in Fort Worth has a section called “Opinions.” People do put their name after their comments. I have always considered this section as a steam valve for crackpots. 7,000 people coming out of curosity, desire, loneliness, confusion, and desperation. I am reminded of how the multitudes came to hear Jesus for the same reasons. Don’t be discouraged. You are on the winning team!!

    Wes Allard – Mansfield, Texas

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