I remember our first meeting. Drew, Keith, and I sat in a room with a box of pizza and
a question, “What do you value?”
Two summers before, I met Keith at a camp near Spokane. He helped our team organize and enroll Northwest kids into bunks and schedules. Our team provided the program, Keith and his wife Paige provided the logistics. At the time, Keith was serving as the Northwest Collegiate Minister at Washington State University. We hit it off immediately - Likely because I was serving as the worship leader for this summer camp and Keith was a sound guy and our team didn’t have a sound guy.
From the start, I realized that Keith loved excellence. Even if he had to drive home and load his car with his personal gear to make the sound better, he was willing to do it—because he wanted to do things well. “If we’re going to do it, let’s do it best” is what I got from Keith, right
Keith and I spent three weeks together, unloading gear from his car, and doing camp. But honestly, after those weeks I didn’t think much more of our relationship. I told Keith I had a friend named Drew who was a magician. Keith laughed, I understood. Anyhow, my magician friend and I were about to head out for a year-long road-trip doing music and magic and we wanted to come to Washington. Keith said, “Yeah, well, that’s great; I guess, uh, maybe, let me know if you guys make it up here.” Or something like that. I’m sure he thought he’d never hear from us again. Everyone is skeptical of a magician.
We called months later, said we were headed to Washington for a few weeks, and asked if he knew any places where we could do music and
magic. He was gracious and let us stay at his house, even connecting us with a couple other collegiate ministries and giving us an opportunity
to perform at WSU.
Through more connections and stories than I have time for, we ended up staying in Pullman for nearly a month, driving away to events and coming back. It served as a home base of sorts.
While at home base, Drew and I started dreaming about what was next. For me, it was something in Pullman. For Drew, Las Vegas was next. I wanted to plant a church; Drew wanted to meet Lance Burton and see how he got those tigers to come out of thin air.
Eventually the Lord brought our hearts together and a year later we drove across the country with all we owned. It was the best decision we ever made. And it all led us to a room with Keith and pizza, asking what we valued.
Keith wanted to change the world. It was apparent. I remember the first time we met in his living room as a team after we had the value conversation. He wrote on a piece of butcher paper taped to his living room wall, “How do we reach 1,000 students?”
I looked up from my scone and started choking. “1,000 students,” I coughed. “How do we reach one student, should be the question.”
We all laughed. Except Keith. He was serious.
He wanted to reach 1,000 students. Even before we reached one, he had the picture in his mind of what it could be.
Everything felt different after butcher-paper conversation. We knew what was North. This goal wasn’t just for fun or faithfulness. This task was for eternity. This vision was for the souls of our city coming to know the King of our hearts. We needed to feel the weight of the task. We needed to be scared. And in one question Keith did it.
Later that day as a staff, we went to a hill outside of Pullman and prayed for WSU. We sat out there and looked over our city, a lot like Jesus looked over Jerusalem. And one by one we started to weep. We could feel the darkness. We could hear the hurt. The gravity of the goal was settling in. We knew we needed the glorious move of a glorious God to lead even one person to faith, much less 1,000. God help us, we pled.
Over 20,000 students attend Washington State University. And eight miles away, 13,000 attend the University of Idaho. Within 10 miles of our feet, 30,000 college students were going through life—as if eternity wasn’t coming—and the vast majority of them had never heard about Jesus. Or at least properly heard about Him.
Pizza conversation brought us to values, butcher paper conversation brought us to reality, and praying on that hill brought us to our knees. We begged God to use us. He assured us He would. But none of us walked away encouraged. We walked away sobered and needing to stretch, because a marathon was coming.
Little did we know, five Easters later, we would see 1,000 students gather to worship; we would see God do a work in our midst that was even more than we originally dreamed. And the real beauty is, behind those numbers are names, and behind those names are stories and in those stories are the church and in the church you find a movement, a movement powered by a Triune God capable of bringing light to the darkest darkness.