In Apr. 19 issue, Russell County News
By Greg Wells
Managing EditorABOVE - Jodi Gickens talks about their group’s visit to New York City this year and the pair’s relief when all of the team returned on-time and intact at their rendezvous site after a day on the town. Brian Salzmann explained that they went out in groups to keep everyone safe, but getting that many people back at the same time to an agreed gathering place was a great show of the team members’ maturity.
It was a different kind of tour bus that rolled through Russell County this week.
Thirty-six young adults are traveling the country with a message. They are one of the two “Acquire the Fire” teams bringing speakers, bands and plays to teens across the country all of it with a Christian message.
This bus stopped for several days in Russell County to rest and regroup before traveling to Baltimore. They had just finished a big show in Nashville.
On the bus are the two road managers Brian Salzmann and Jodi Gickens. At 23-years-old the couple are veterans of the Teen Mania programs, the Christian leadership internship program and college prep school.
Now they wrangle 33 stage hands, performers, talent handlers and others from one location to another.
Jodi said she and Brian came to this Christian ministry a year apart and hope to go overseas next with the missions program. But for now she said they are taking time out from college to work in this ministry, which brings an uplifting message to counter the many negative messages they get from media and other sources in their daily lives.
Brian said they’ve traveled eight weeks straight getting this tour started, sleeping and living on the bus, in very close conditions.
Jodi added that for the rest of the tour they will be trying to stop in towns, when possible, where their team mates are from.
The stage manager for this show is Rana Thompson, the daughter of Raymond and Paula Thompson in Russell Springs.
Jodi said the stop has given all of the team a chance to decompress, to see some sights and participate in activities with their host families like horseback riding.
Raymond explained that the families were solicited from the members of Higher Praise as well as Liberty Baptist, Russell Springs United Methodist and Jamestown First Baptist Churches.
The two road managers expressed a great love for the work they are doing, but a little bit of homesickness for their friends at home in Texas. But they build friendships with the other 18 to 28-year-old even through the strain of being bus-mate and supervisor.
“They really love each other and get along well,” Jodi said.
Brian added that, “We don’t feel like we’re babysitting.”
At least not most of the time.
They said measures were always taken to see that as the teens and young adults move from city to city they are paired with a same sex buddy to insure safety as they visit these unfamiliar cities.
Their lives aren’t only about their work in this ministry. Jodi is studying with an eye to a career in radiology and Brian is in a business management program.
But the two of them speak mostly of how important the work is and they hope the others in the team realize how much a difference they are making in the lives of the teens who attend the events.
Brian and Jodi related that the team members are gaining not only the experience in a business few people work in, professional stage productions, but they are also learning how to relate productively in close and occasionally stressful conditions.
The program is the brain-child of Ron Luce, who started his many mission programs traveling the country in a van 25-years ago, Brian said.
He pointed to their websites, TeenMania.com and AcquireTheFire.com for people to learn more of the internship, and mission programs.
As for this team they got on the road Thursday for their show in Baltimore this Friday and Saturday before heading to the west coast to make their next show, the next weekend.