Excitement seems to building as local teenagers and others anticipate the ‘Teens for Truth’ event planned for the old Gays Mills Community Building on Main Street this Saturday.
The event kicks off at 4 p.m., with a concert by Eau Claire-based 513Free, a band known for its Christian pop-rock sound.
Not surprisingly, the five-piece band takes its name from a Bible verse, specifically Galatians 5:13. It reads as follows:
‘For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another.’
When you talk with Jesse Campbell, the band’s name and its broader mission becomes clear. The musical group began their ministry five years ago and estimates they have played more than 300 events nationwide since then.
The band members are volunteers, who spend a lot of time in prisons, rehab centers and homeless shelters, according to Campbell.
“We work a lot with people that others tend to forget about,” 513Free’s lead guitarist and vocalist explained. While the band is a non-profit group and the band members are volunteers, some of the money raised is used to upgrade the sound system and on transportation.
However, lots of the group’s fundraising is directed at those in need. For instance, it supports a ministry in Haiti and another in Juarez, Mexico, where housing is being built. The fundraising supports lots of local needs.
“We’re a very different model,” 513Free’s Campbell explained. “We have different goals. We’re not a typical band. We want to make a lasting impact on the world.”
While the group is united in their work and ministry, they are from different denominational backgrounds and work in different occupation. The group includes or has included, farmers, an auto mechanic, college students, a construction worker and more. This very diverse group met at church about five years ago.
The group is “more about serving and less about self,” Campbell noted.
The Christian music the band will play on Saturday has been described by some as David Crowder meets Cutlass. It’s primarily original compositions, but the band does cover other Christian bands, as well.
Ultimately, the music can be a bit edgy, according to Campbell.
513Free is coming to Gays Mills because of a variety of connections with people in the area including a performance in Viroqua late last summer.
Thirteen-year-old Amanda Schmidt and her older sister Stacy Schmidt first saw 513Free at the Christian Harbor Youth Camp near Holcombe.
“We saw them and they inspired us,” that 21-year-old Stacy recalled. “They inspired our whole family.”
Stacy has a big role to play in the Teens for Truth event Saturday. Being a bit older, some of the leadership responsibilities have fallen to her.
“I have a lot of responsibility directing all these kids and serving as a role model being older than they are,” Stacy explained.
However, Stacy and Amanda are excited by more than just the appearance of 513Free. The girls are playing in a local Christian band, Crossover, which is scheduled to play at 7 p.m. this Saturday.
“We have been practicing so hard,” Stacy said of the work Crossover is doing in preparation for the Teens for Truth event. “It’s hard to get nine kids together at once. Some nights go better than others, but I am excited.”
So is her sister Amanda, the band’s keyboardist, who sees the band progressing.
Two other sisters, Olivia and Lena Kvigne are also pretty upbeat about the band’s potential. Both girls are known for their singing. Lena described Crossover’s sound as “upbeat contemporary Christian music.”
It’s not just music that has got the local teens going either, it’s games and food and hanging out with friends.
Michael Volden, 16, seems to be enjoying the planning of the event and helping to make the decisions on games and bands and food.
“I think the event brings teens together and gives them something to do,” Volden said. “It’s good for the community. It brings us all together. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. It will be a good place to hang out with your friends.”
Teens and adult organizers seemed to agree there is definite need for a Christian-based teen activity in the area. The response of local churches and businesses would seem to confirm that feeling. Twelve local churches are supporting the event and over 25 businesses have made donations of merchandise, food or money for the event.
Most of those involved are hoping the event will become a regular monthly activity.
Lena Kvigne is one of those who is really hoping the event is successful.
“There are a lot of people from different schools who know about it,” Lena said. “She expected teens from Kickapoo, Boscobel, Prairie du Chien and LaFarge would attend.”
Lena’s sister, Olivia, also sees a need for the Teens for Truth.
“I think we need to spread the gospel through people who do not know it,” Olivia Kvigne said. “All communities need Jesus, more than anything.”
Bev Schmidt, the mother of Stacy and Amanda, also sees a need for “an exciting church event that involve a lot of kids.”
On a practical level, Bev Schmidt realizes it is difficult to have youth events at churches with four or five kids. However, she believes when the kids are combined in a non-denominational event much more is possible.
Will it grow to a monthly event?
Michael Volden like many of the others involved is hoping it will.
“This will get the ball rolling,” Volden said. “People will come and they will have a lot of fun. I think there’s a lot of opportunity for it to grow.”
For the local Christian youth community, it all starts with the first Teens for Truth event scheduled for this Saturday from 4 to 9 p.m. in the old Gays Mills Community Building at 212 Main Street. The music, games, food and fun may be the beginning of a monthly Teens For Truth event.