This is going to be a long story. But I promise that it will be worth it. Please read when you get some time.
I grew up watching WWE. I still watch WWE. And I will always love professional wrestling and sports entertainment. From the beginning, I was always fascinated with the character work, the music, the energy in each arena, how each performer used their own tactics to get a reaction from a crowd... the list goes on... But there's one fun thing that I really enjoyed... The pyrotechnics. The fireworks, explosions, smoke, flames, all of it...
I attended the ELCA Youth Gathering for the first time in 2009. An event that occurs every three years, and it brings 35,000 high school students together to experience live performances, speakers, worship, and so much more. I imagined myself being on the stage, while also imagining myself performing at Summerslam or Wrestlemania, some of WWE's largest events in the year. I dedicated myself to finding a way on the stage...
In 2012, I was an emcee for the Youth Gathering, and it was a great opportunity... But it was a time in life where I lost my focus... where I wasn't my best self... where my faith in God wasn't as strong as it should have been... I expected it to be the beginning of a much needed change for myself. It didn't happen right away. But within a couple of years, I began making the changes I needed to make.
I missed the 2015 Gathering because of work. But this was also the year that I released my first Christian rap album. I had many doubts about the direction of my work, but I knew that it was important... I knew that it was making a difference in my life, and in a few lives around me. So, I decided to keep going.
I was asked to be apart of the 2018 Gathering, but on the planning committee. Because I love the event, with all my heart, I immediately said yes! But, I really wanted to perform on the stage. There was a small possibility of being a performer, but nothing was official. As we got closer to the event, that possibility began to grow... and eventually... I signed the contract! 😃😭
Each day, as the stage was being built, I walked to the center... looked out at the empty seats... prayed for God to lead me, prayed for hearts to be full, minds to be clear, ears to be open, words to be heard, and for God to be glorified through it all.
I took it all in.
This is really happening!
Rehearsals went well, things continued to move in the right direction... My friend, the superstar Jordan Palzer, walks up to me and says: "I heard you might have pyro." I laughed it off, obviously, because I thought he was joking. He made it very clear that he wasn't. I shared with him my lifelong desire to include some sort of pyro in a performance... and he told me that it MIGHT happen.
Sooooooooooooooooooo, here's the fun part... Here's how ALL of this ties together... in one, very long, run-on sentence:
After releasing a professional-wrestling themed, Christian Hip-Hop album, called "THE TRUE GOLD," I performed at the ELCA Youth Gathering, in front of 30,000+ people, and was surprised with the opportunity to use PYRO in the set, while giving all the glory to GOD in the process.
I took ALL of my passions, ALL of my experiences, and found a way to make it work together.
Here's what I want you to know...
1) No matter what your dream is! No matter what you're passionate about! No matter what people think, what your obstacles are, what life situations you encounter, what doubt you have, what negativity you face... THERE IS ALWAYS A PATH TO FULFILLING A DREAM. Even if it takes decades to get there. It may not be what you originally intended, but it can happen.
2) The pyro was crazy! It was phenomenal! It was WONDERFUL! But, you know what else was great? Speaking to students about my faith... Talking about the lyrics of the words, and the story behind them... Not just the "cool stuff." The effects and everything else comes second. The true focus is the message, and how that's being communicated.
3) MOST IMPORTANTLY, I encourage you to use your passions and your dreams to BETTER SOMEONE ELSE'S LIFE. Be an inspiration. Be a source of light. Be what the world truly needs.
THIS is what DREAMS are all about.