30th August 2002 welcomes the return of IN:FUSION festival in Southern Ireland. Helen Knight spoke to Roisin Ni Cheallaigh.
"God is so amazing! He is so amazing you know!" "Go on just one more time for the record," I suggested. "GOD IS SO AMAZING!" Roisin Ni Cheallaigh, coordinator of ln:fusion, yelled. The ln:fusion team have reached countdown with only a matter of weeks left before the seventh annual event takes place at Drewstown House, Co Meath, Southern Ireland and the excitement and anticipation has already reached boiling point for Roisin.
Once again the team are pulling out all the stops to provide what they hope will be an amazing weekend bursting with festival fever. Welsh rapcore team Kosher and Scottish rock group Superhero are set to provide high octane music while other acts set to play are Dublin's own Eoghan Heaslip, Unique World fronted by Scott Nichol and Ignited Praise. Noel Kenny also returns to the delight and anticipation of the In:fusion crew who expect more of the Spirit fuelled fire he inspired last year.
The annual festival is not an ordinary music event but encompasses a whole host of activities including the Arts and Drama tent and the Showcase tent, which will present the best up and coming CCM talent. "This year for the first time we are going to have a sports ministry," adds Roisin. I immediately picture an exhausted referee blowing his whistle whilst reaching into his top pocket to pull out a red...Gideon's, "Thou shalt not foul your opponent." 'It'll never catch on,' I think to myself, but Roisin explains, "It is a way of reaching out to people through sports. If you play football or whatever, half of your life revolves around practice sessions, matches, hanging out and socializing with the people who play. To have Christian people who are interested in those sports is just a way of reaching out to those people." I stand corrected. "We have a connection with a team of Christian skateboarders from the States who are going to be coming over, we don't know if they are going to be involved in the festival or if they are coming over earlier in the summer. Paul Kobelarz who is a National Ice Hockey League player may also come over as a personality and a Christian with a heart to be involved."
The 24-hour worship and praise tent Iniclose returns much to Roisin's delight. "Last year when I look back it was just this big blur where night ran into day and I couldn't place when I had conversations, but I remember a few times just going into the Inxlose worship tent for five minutes or whatever and coming out feeling so energized again and just really leaning on God."
The history of In:fusion goes back to a tragedy when 20 year old Irish musician Paul Stephens died from an adult cot death. Paul had a real heart for the Christian music scene in Dublin, so his brothers Nigel and Graham decided to hold a small festival called ln:fusion, which would celebrate Paul's life and bring bands and musicians together from all over the city to celebrate the Lord through arts and music as a memorial to Paul. It attracted over 140 people including staff and was a great success. From these humble roots, the festival has steadily grown. Last year the event drew up to 1000 young people and families from all over Ireland. Roisin is keen to assert, "It is an opportunity for them to grow spiritually and to get to know God for the first time or to renew their relationship with God. It is fantastic and really exciting to see the numbers grow but at the end of the day it is not about numbers either. Without meeting God it is a complete waste of time, it does not achieve what it sets out to do."
Cross Rhythms partnered In:fusion in 1999 when Jon Bellamy and Chris Cole met with In:fusion visionary Tom Murtagh and were inspired by the inspiration for the youth festival. In a country which is 97 per cent Catholic and three per cent mixed Protestant, Roisin believes there is a real hunger for something different. "There is a huge upsurge of interest in New Age stuff, divorce was introduced last year, the number of people taking drugs and the percentage of alcoholics are all on the increase." A daunting prospect for Ireland's youth and with that in mind the team are acutely aware of the importance of prayer. "It is so vital that we are praying together, praying for each other and just really praying that God will put In:fusion on people's hearts to pray for us to keep us covered in prayer, because we are going into the enemy's territory. But God has put us above all powers and principalities and we just really believe that his plan and purpose is going to prevail. A lot of the people who come to the festival will be Christians but we get a considerable number of people who aren't churched, so we are really excited about what God is going to do again."
In:fusion is registering as a charity this year and the crew hope that it will help them to be seen as a more of a legitimate entity. Currently the event depends upon the generosity of those God sends to fund the weekend and the sacrifice of time from the 100 plus volunteers needed to keep the festival running smoothly. "We always need bodies to help and we are just praying that those people who help will be hand picked by God. Everyone who comes wants to come back again and every year we are always encouraged by the really good feedback we get. "Helen Knight is currently moving from Bristol to Derby. She advises that more information can be obtained by phoning 003531 868585787 or visiting www.infusionfestival.comThe opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.