Written by Rahul Jacob, Director of Advancement Experience
The idea of doing a nationwide bus tour was actually born in 2019 when the US presidential election season was just beginning. The team and I were inspired by how effectively different campaign messages were being shared and how many supporters came together to support their political beliefs. Being a staff member, a supportive alum, and super fan of Cedarville, I obviously started to ponder how Cedarville could take this same principle of traveling around the country but use it to share the gospel through worship and the word and give people an idea about the kind of transformation the students were experiencing here on campus because of their relationship with the Lord! This was how the concept for the tour was born.
Since the initial idea in 2019, we hit unprecedented times. Covid caused the world to shut down and people were living in fear. Cedarville did not put on a single alumni event for over a year, and it just felt like the Cedarville Family was more distant than ever. Once the effects of Covid settled down, the University entered one of the most exciting times in the history of the institution. We were about to launch One Thousand Days Transformed: The Campaign for Cedarville in October of 2021. The largest comprehensive campaign the University has ever undertaken. What better time to travel around the country, engage with our Cedarville family, and share the hope we have in the gospel?
Since the Summer of 2021, we have been planning for the Transformed Tour. The tour has had more than 100+ staff and students’ hands in the planning and executing of the tour. It has been such a campus wide effort to get the wheels on this bus, and we are so grateful. I think the planning of the tour has really showcased how excellent something can be if a great team is working together, challenging each other, and bringing the best ideas to the table. Kaileigh McCann, Kimmy Powell, and Jonathan Lyons all work on the Advancement team with me, and these three individuals played a critical role in the planning and executing of the tour. Without these team members, we would not even have a tour!
Even with an incredible team of people working towards one goal, roadblocks and challenges arise that you would never expect. An example of this was just a week before the bus was supposed to arrive on campus. I received an email from the bus company I had been working with for months saying we no longer had a bus because they were shutting down their entertainer bus company business and therefore were unable to provide us with a driver. This obviously had massive implications on the traveling team as we would not have been able to put on more than half of the tour events if we did not have this bus. I was immediately brought to my knees in front of God. Why, after a year of planning, the week before we left, would we be presented with such a roadblock? More and more, the Lord is teaching me to rely on His strength. This tour is the Lord’s, and we are just His vessels doing Kingdom work. Long story short, the bus company eventually found someone to drive our bus and our schedule was not impacted whatsoever. I believe the Lord brought us this specific driver, who will be retiring after our tour, to travel around the country with God-obsessed people. We are hoping and praying that we are able to have Kingdom conversations with him.
The first event in Grand Rapids was a huge success! We had over 450 people turn out for the event, and the church was packed with people catching up with each other. We saw many alums, parents, current students, prospective students, and even people who have never heard of Cedarville attend the event. Through the three events we have had thus far, we have seen lives being committed to Christ, prospective students decide they wanted to come to Cedarville, financial partners giving in big ways, and alums connecting for the first time in a very long time. If the Lord can do that in just these last three events, I can only expect Him to do much more in the events to come!