Praise God and Pass the Sunscreen: A Summer on the Road
By Jennifer Willis
After 58 nights, 14,000 miles and thousands of GCU-branded coconut sunscreen bottles, Trevor Roberts and Spencer Fehrenbacher claim they have seen it all.
The duo returned to GCU in mid-August after a summer of touring the country promoting the University, handing out scholarships and checking out some of the hot Christian bands that will be performing at GCU Arena in its first year.“It was a lot of fun,” said Roberts, who is already back out on the road for 30 dates of the Third Day tour, which comes to campus on Nov. 20. “We were able to speak in front of thousands of people at a time, sharing our campus with them and getting people interested in attending GCU.”
Added Fehrenbacher: “We had a lot of people fill out applications for online programs across the country and even some who applied for ground campus. By the time we got back to campus, several of them had already started classes.”
One such individual was a girl they met early in the tour of Christian music festivals. Although she had never heard of GCU, she came up to the booth several times and even brought her youth leader to check it out. They ran into her again at one of the last stops. She was still interested in attending GCU but unsure if she would be able to afford it.
A week after getting back from their trip, the guys had her and her family out to campus to tour. She felt GCU was where God wanted her to be but wasn’t sure she could do it, even after finding out that she had won one of the $2,500 scholarships handed out on the tour.
She prayed about it, and the day before Move-In, she bought a one-way plane ticket to Phoenix.
“The connections that we made were very fulfilling,” Fehrenbacher said. “It was cool to see lives that we were able to change and affect by telling them about GCU.”
Other schools were out on the road, as well.
“A lot of Christian colleges are trying to get people to attend their school,” Roberts said. “We probably ran into 15 other schools during this trip. But what we heard over and over again is that GCU was unique because our focus is on allowing students to find their purpose.”
By attending so many music festivals, the guys got to see and hear a number of top bands. Here’s what they had to say about a few that are on their way to campus:
Casting Crowns (7:30 p.m. Friday at the Arena): “Their music is more focused on who God is. It’s about just standing there and being in total awe of Him. Their songs and performance are more reflective.”
The Afters (opening for Casting Crowns): “They are a great group of guys. They play a pop worship style of music that really appeals to the college-age students. When they play ‘Light Up the Sky,’ they have everyone hold up their cell phones. It sounds kind of cheesy, but the effect is really cool. It definitely makes you stop and look around in awe at all the lights around you. It’s kind of an inspiring feeling, like there’s something more there.”
Sanctus Real (opening for Casting Crowns): “Their sound is kind of a melodic style of worship. They’re real popular right now with the middle-school-age students but they also have a strong following of older people who have been following them for the past 10 years.”
The David Crowder Band (Oct. 6): “David has awesome energy. He is a great worship leader. There’s a relaxed, bluegrass feel to his music. It’s very freeing.”
Switchfoot (Oct. 21): “We saw Switchfoot at the very first festival we attended, in Atlanta. It started pouring and they only played three songs before they were ushered offstage. A few moments later, though, lead singer Jon Foreman came back out to an island in the center and just sang and interacted with the crowd. That was really cool.”
Third Day (Nov. 20): “These guys know how to have fun. They can also slow it down and play acoustically, though. They like to go into the crowd and become a part of them.”
Tenth Avenue North (opening for Third Day): “Their lead singer, Mike Donehey, has a great heart. Their music is in the pop style of worship but it’s also very reflective. It speaks very clearly to their audience.”
Reach Jennifer Willis at 639.7383 or [email protected].