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Rock the pasture: En Fuego returns despite threat of rain

By JOYANNA LOVE/Senior Staff Writer

Overcast skies, some light rain and lightning in the distance could not stop the En Fuego Festival on Aug. 24.

The 2019 lineup saw the return of some familiar faces to the stage, including headliner Tenth Avenue North, Sanctus Real, Tori Parris and a surprise performance by Seventh Day Slumber.

Seventh Day Slumber lead singer Joseph Rojas said it was “a last-minute thing.”

“We’re honored to be here,” Rojas said. “Thanks to everyone at En Fuego for letting us come. We were actually going to be here anyway. We were coming to see GFM and watch them play. Also, we have a lot of other friends here.”

The band performed some of the songs on its new “Closer to Chaos” album, including “Alive Again,” which is “currently number one all across the nation on Christian Rock radio.”

Rojas shared the inspiration for the band’s song “Sober.”

“It’s a raw song,” Rojas said. “It’s about when you’ve made the decision to get sober … it’s in that moment that your deepest darkest pains come up, and you can’t run to something now to numb the pain, and that is when battles are won and lost.”

He shared how God delivered him from addictions to cocaine and then alcohol.

Rojas said his mother prayed for him while he was in prison.

Later, he reached the point of contemplating suicide.

“I had lost everything … and I was struggling … I just wanted the pain to stop,” Rojas said. “Some of you are like that tonight, you just want the pain to stop.”

After attempting suicide, “in the back of an ambulance, I gave my life to Christ and he delivered me,” Rojas said.

Rojas also shared that “years into me being a Christian and me sharing my story, I decided to start drinking. I was just going to have a few drinks — God still loves me, I’m not playing shows, I’m just at home. I don’t share this a whole lot. It’s a real tender part of my story. I ended up becoming an alcoholic.”

He said he had come up with many excuses but knew he needed to just run to God.

“I finally had to be honest with myself,” Rojas said. “I didn’t want my wife to hurt, and I never thought that my kids would see their daddy drunk.”

When he had a two-month break from touring and decided he needed to get sober.

“God delivered me,” Rojas said. “He healed me. I cried out to him, and I ran to him more desperate than when I was running to drugs or alcohol. That’s the thing — what will happen if you run desperately to Him, the way you have been desperately running to the other things you have been looking for that aren’t filling you up and leaving you more empty then you were before?”

Rojas said while his story is hard to share, God told him “there are people who needed to hear it.”

En Fuego also welcomed some new bands, including Andy Mineo, Landers, Maniac Drive and GFM.

Lead singer Shawn Cavallo of Maniac Drive talked about “getting out of my comfort zone as an artist” and not getting caught up in just writing songs that people will like for their last album “Into the Wild.”

Cavallo shared the inspiration and process for the song “Easier.”

“As a Christian artist, you just have to do one thing — that is writing songs for our Lord and Savior,” Cavallo said.

He said he decided to “let everything go” and just write. He said it was a really hard process.

“Being a Christian doesn’t mean life is supposed to be easy,” Cavallo said. “It doesn’t mean we get a free pass. It means sacrifices. It means challenges. It means giving your all — and that’s not an easy thing to do.”

Lead singer Maggie English of GFM (Gold Frankincense and Myrrh) said the “beautycore band” had not played in Alabama in a while.

“We are super stoked to be out here playing for you guys today,” English said.

During the bands set, English took a minute to “get real with you guys.”

“For the past couple years of my life, I spent every waking moment constantly comparing myself to other people,” she said.

She said while constantly wanted to be as good as everyone she met, she was “pushing away the people that cared about me the most … I had re-created myself so many times that I didn’t know who I was anymore.”

She said she was not happy and made the decision to not live that way anymore. She encouraged those in the crowd to do so also.

“We believe in Jesus Christ,” English said. “We believe he created each and every one of us individually.”

En Fuego takes more than 500 volunteers to make the event possible. The festival draws thousands of people of all ages each year.