After dodging an early morning deluge this Saturday, Graham Jam, the annual mid-summer romp at Frontier Park unfolded under pleasant, sunny summer skies.
Produced by the Graham Emmanuel Baptist Church, the Graham Jam is a hybrid affair that is part religious revival and part community carnival.
Open to the public and free, Graham Jam features plenty of old-fashioned fun for the kids – sledge-hammer hits with a rubber mallet to ring a bell, ball tosses to play tic-tac-toe, or three chances to loop the neck of a milk bottle and stand it upright – all for a small candy prize – and it held youngsters’ attention throughout the afternoon.
As in years’ past, the big treat was the “trout fishing pond” which had over 300 good-sized fish swimming in a huge aluminum trough while dozens of kids lined up and waited over 20 minutes to get a turn with a fishing pole and a chance to snag “a big one.”
“People are having a really good time,” said pastor Jay Schilling, estimating that the crowd was between 1,200 and 1,500, a little less than last year when brilliant hot summer temperatures blessed western Washington.
Because of the inclement and windy weather early in the day, the large inflatable jump houses were replaced with smaller, more secure structures, which ringed the encampment and gave the Graham Jam a more intimate feeling.
“The smaller jump houses are actually helping us,” said Kevin Huff, event coordinator of the GEBC. “They’re closer in and everyone can hear the music and see all the activities and entertainment.”
Performing again was the outstanding GEBC worship band, which played solid soft rock tunes and provided a festive background to the games being played around them.
A surprise treat was the performance of the Graham-Kapowsin High School Drum Line under the superb direction of Randy Thomas. Playing drum riffs that spanned “all genres,” the Dance Line delivered a solid and varied performance that caused one audience members to voice, “They are so tight!”
But the Big Enchilada of the day was the performance of the Christian-based Power Team unit from Dallas, Texas.
Performing at the Graham Jam for the second year, the Power Team displayed feats of strength, such as cracking eight cement blocks with a karate head chop, to energize the crowd. Once all the oohs, and ahhs for manly strength faded, the performers then talked about their redemptive experiences and made a call for audience members to seek a more personal relationship with Jesus.
The youngest member of the Power Team, Mike Turner, shared his touching and authentic story of how the loss of his father – a beloved pastor – to an early death caused such anger and loss within Mr. Turner that he “spit in the face of Jesus” and adopted a life of sex, drugs and rock and roll.
Power Team member Mike Turner, above, breaks a baseball bat with raw brute force.
Mike told the audience that after a night of heavy partying he smashed his tricked-out Jeep into a power pole. Seeing his best friend flee the scene and realizing his complete aloneness, Mike asked Jesus for forgiveness and received it – out in the middle of a Texas highway.
“Love never gives up,” Mike told the crowd. “God’s love for us is unconditional.”
With that realization, Mike Turner returned to the strict practices of his Christian faith. Now, after a collegiate career in football, he is touring nationwide with the Power Team, traveling over 30 weeks a year to deliver nearly 300 inspirational addresses before youth groups and churches.
Power Team strongman – and former Atlanta Falcons footballer – Matt Dobson, prepares to “smash some stuff” with his forehead, in picture above.
For those desiring a more comprehensive religious experience, the Graham Emmanuel Baptist Church will be holding its Sunday service July 17 at Frontier Park, where the Power Team will offer new and more demanding feats of strength as a means of affirming their faith in Jesus Christ.
© 2011 The Mountain News – WA