In the summer of ’96 (I believe), we did as any good Baptist youth group would do; we went to camp. The camp that was chosen was a camp in Arkansas with one speaker, three musicians and a comedian. I have many fond memories of this camp (watching my friend write “bite me” on the comedians forehead while we were waiting in line to eat, creating the nastiest drink you could imagine with some leftover root beer infused with whatever we could find to add to it that we nicknamed “goober juice” – yeah, we were weird!) But, the memory that stands out is one involving the musicians.
There were three musicians – Todd Proctor, Joel Engle and Chris Tomlin. One night of the camp, the leaders allowed us to choose one musician to lead our group during our group worship time. It was clear, the musicians that everyone wanted were Todd Proctor and Joel Engle; Chris Tomlin was the no-name new guy.
Long story short, our group chose Chris Tomlin. I will never forget the night we had together. He lead us in a few songs and commented, “You guys really sing out!” You know, the kind of sing out you do when you’re on the emotional camp high?! Anyway, we talked a little bit and he told us the story about how his dad had taught him how to play the guitar when he was young.
That little time we had together that night has made a huge impact on me. The reason is because 21 years later I see how God has used Chris in amazing ways to touch lives all across the globe. But what’s more, I see how the person you see leading literally millions is the same person that lead that small youth group from Texas that night. I’ve seen videos of him being asked how he played the guitar and he will tell you that his dad taught him when he was little.
I find it amazing how God allowed our paths to cross so many years ago before he gained popularity. There have been so many of his songs that have spoken profound truth into my life. It would be amazing to have the opportunity to sit around and sing with him like that again. He has a beautiful family to take care of now so he may not have as much time to do it. Regardless, I’m thankful for the influence that Chris Tomlin has had in my life.