It’s hard to really know what brought Rachel into the tent that day. It may have been the oppressive summer heat. It could have just been curiosity. As Joe Hamm, the Promotions Coordinator at e3 Partners was setting up that day, he watched as this teenage girl browsed the I am Second merchandise.
Suddenly, Rachel broke down crying.
“I didn’t say a word. I just reached out and hugged her,” Joe remembers.
She clung to him for several minutes, soaking his shirt in her tears. As she regained composure, Joe introduced himself. That’s when she revealed the burdens she carried.
Between her painful home life and sexual abuse history, this seemingly normal teenage girl was dealing with deep emotional pain. The scars on her arm proved it was becoming more than she could handle. That’s when Joe began to share his own story and the impact Jesus has made on his life.
“It was really the first time I had ever shared Jesus with a stranger,” Joe remembers.
There, in an outdoor tent at one of the nation’s largest rock festivals, God broke into Rachel’s life.
Intersecting with Alternative Culture
With 41 stops and nearly 90 musical artists. the Vans Warped Tour is the premier alternative rock festival in the United States. With over 15,000 guests expected at each stop, the tour will draw over half a million fans, many of whom are teenagers and college students.
At each stop, I am Second interacts with musical artists and concert-goers from across the country. In addition to selling merchandise, Joe and his team host a lounge where guests can rest, charge their phones, and escape the hot summer heat.
Joe explains, “It’s all a public service to attract people so we can engage them in conversation.”
Many attendees are outcasts in their schools. Some actively experiment with casual sex and drug use. Events like the Vans Warped Tour are a gathering place for these fans who find community in their shared love of music.
“We’re all finding satisfaction in things that aren’t helpful,” Joe remarked. “The youth of today like to rebel and a man preaching on a street corner won’t likely resonate with them.”
I am Second engages these fans in their own environment. It’s also a chance for the team to share Jesus’ love.
Joe explains, “They’re used to constantly being told that they’re wrong. They think Christianity is about pointing the finger and it’s not. The fact we’re in that environment with them is huge.”
Over the last year, Joe and his wife, Renee have kindled a special friendship with Rachel on social media. They touch base every few months. In the time since their encounter, her life has gone in a completely new direction. She has relief from the burdens of her past and has even found a local church.
Keep Up with I am Second
This year’s tour begins on Thursday, June 19 in Pomona, CA and will continue into August. Joe and the I am Second team will be there at each stop, hanging out with fans and engaging along the way. Catch their updates on the new I am Second app! Download here.