The Light the Lake Festival, a free Christian music concert held in Stockton, has a new name and a new location.

Now known as Light the Way Christian Music Festival, the event will take place July 12-13 on the east side of Jamestown Plaza in Rogersville for the first time. The concert is free entry (tickets required) and will feature music from a variety of Christian artists, including Danny Gokey, Kari Jobe, We Are Messengers, Tauren Wells and many more. John Wilson, director/founder of Light the Way Ministry, said they decided to move the event to Rogersville because they literally outgrew Stockton.

“We had 21,000 people at last year’s festival,” said Wilson. “We weren’t sure what to do about it, but after some prayer and discussion, we felt called to go to a bigger venue.”

Originally, the festival was known as “Light the Lake,” because of the lake behind the church building where the event was held. Wilson decided to change the name to “Light the Way” after talking to the staff about it.

For Wilson, the idea to offer a Christian music festival in Stockton seemed pretty wild at the beginning. He had been involved in the music industry for 12 years and booked concerts as a concert promoter for country artists and others.

“Music has been a passion of mine for a long time,” said Wilson. “I have always wanted to do a music festival. That was even before I came to know Jesus Christ, but there weren’t really any opportunities in the secular music industry. I didn’t even think about the Christian music industry, but a pastor from my church spoke to me about it.”

It was during a softball game at the Hill Church in Stockton where Pastor Beau Norman talked to Wilson about having a Christian concert at the church.

“Pastor Norman offered to let us use the church as a venue for the concert,” said Wilson. “At first, I laughed at the idea. I wasn’t really into church or Jesus Christ at the time, but he kept encouraging me to put one on. I decided to do it and just at that little concert we had 105 people there. I saw so many lives impacted by it, and my life was changed too.”

The following summer, Wilson felt called to start a free Christian music festival in Stockton, and this would be known as  the Light the Lake Festival. He and the rest of the staff had to raise $50,000 for the first year, and this proved to be a challenge since they were just starting out. They had to raise $135,000 for the festival during the second year.

“We had about 10,000 people the first year we had the concert,” said Wilson. “That number increased last year. We had recorded 1,101 salvations and over 37 on-the-spot baptisms. It was overwhelming and a blessing to see so many lives be changed.”

After seeing attendance increase, Wilson said he felt it was time to move to another location. Near the end of last year’s festival, he approached 88.3 The Wind, one of the business partners for the event, and had a meeting with radio hosts and staff.

“I told them, ‘Guys, I think we won’t have Light the Lake anymore,’” said Wilson. “I told them I felt feel like we needed to move the event closer to Springfield. You wouldn’t believe the cheers and praises that came from the staff after I said that. It turns out they all were praying for God’s direction with the event location since it was so popular.”

Since Wilson didn’t know anyone in Rogersville, the staff from 88.3 The Wind directed him to David Clouse, owner of Clouse Motor Company in Rogersville. He met with Clouse that same day and shared his idea about having the festival in Rogersville.

“David Clouse showed me the property behind Jamestown Plaza, which is about 20 acres,” said Wilson. “He told me it would be a good spot to have the festival. After weeks of discussion with the Greene County Commissioners and others in connection with the property, we were able to get an agreement to use the property for the festival.”

He added that Clouse also donated an office space on Jamestown Plaza for Light the Way Ministry to use.

This year, Light the Way Ministry has to raise $300,000 to put together the festival. So far, they have raised $75,000. During a partnership luncheon at Jamestown Plaza on Monday, Wilson spoke to businesses around the area about the vision of Light the Way Ministry, the 2019 festival and why their partnership matters.

“Every single year, the Light the Way Ministry has a luncheon for our business partners,” said Wilson. “It’s our way of showing them they’re more than just a check to us. We want to thank them for all they’re doing to help this ministry. We wouldn’t be able to do it without the support of our community, business partners and sponsors.”

Volunteers are still needed for the event. Wilson said anyone interested in helping out or would like to make a donation for the festival can visit www.lightthewayministry.com.

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