By Lucy Ruscitto | Staff Writer
Christian musician Chris Tomlin will perform in front of an audience of cars to benefit Waco’s local non-profit Restoration Gateway at 7:30 p.m. Friday at First Woodway Baptist Church.
Jenny Chandler is head of donor relations at Restoration Gateway. She said she and her team had to think a bit unconventionally for the nonprofit’s annual concert.
“We have done a concert as our fundraiser every year since 2017 … This year, we had to get a bit creative in how we would host the event due to COVID,” Chandler said. “Turns out, artists such as Casting Crowns and For King and Country were doing drive-in concerts all around the country. We decided this would be a great way to both host an event and ensure it would be a safe and socially distant environment.”
The event is being organized by Waco Social and is sponsored by TFNB (The First National Bank). Owner of Waco Social, Kim Stevens, was hired to assist in the planning of this event for Restoration Gateway. She said she and her team were able to join forces with a Nashville agent to book the Christian contemporary singer.
“He and his team have been great to work with and we’re excited to host them in Waco this weekend,” Stevens said.
A Texas native, Tomlin is considered by TIME Magazine to be the “most often sung artist in the world,” according to the singer’s website.
As a result of the cause and the famed singer and his successes, Stevens said she believes that the expected turnout will be around 1,000 attendees, if there are 250 cars with four to six people in each vehicle. Chandler said she and Restoration Gateway are aiming for a big turnout in hopes of continuing this event for years to come.
“Provided this year is a success as well, we plan to host a concert with a Christian artist for our annual fundraiser every fall,” Chandler said.
With its fundraising office based in Waco, Restoration Gateway is a non-profit dedicated to creating a “a Christ-centered, model community that will foster God’s heart for physical and spiritual restoration among the people of war-torn Uganda,” according to their website.
Chandler said the nonprofit has four overarching facets to its work: orphan care, medical care, ministry to the church and empowerment.
“We currently have 192 children under our care. Each of these children are given a loving home and care, food, medical care, spiritual care and an education beginning in pre-school and going through Senior Six, what we would know as through high school graduation,” Chandler said.
Additionally, Chandler said that in April 2018, the organization was even able to open a 180-bed hospital facility in Uganda, where three full-time Ugandan doctors and two full-time American doctors work.
“Childbirth and malaria are the two most common reasons for patients to come to our hospital,” Chandler said. “Our goal is to develop this into a teaching hospital, where medical students and residents from Uganda can learn and practice medicine.”
Chandler said she would describe the organization’s goal of empowerment exemplified in their department of agriculture, the staff in Uganda, and occupational training.
“We grow beans, corn, cassava, harvest our own honey, and much more. We also have plenty of goats and chickens onsite. We produce the majority of the food that we consume on campus. In addition, we employ over 100 full-time Ugandan staff, plus over 150 day-laborers,” Chandler said. “We also have vocational training programs, such as our brick-making facility and have plans to create a Mechanic Training Institute.”
To purchase tickets to support Restoration Gateway and to see Chris Tomlin perform live from the comfortable seat of your car, those interested can visit the RG Live website. While VIP and preferred tickets are still sold out, available tickets cost $100 per car, up to 6 people per car.
“We’ll have food trucks on site so there will be dinner, beverage, and dessert options,” Stevens said.
All proceeds from the concert will benefit Restoration Gateway.