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Explo '72

Cover of Life Magazine in June 1972 Explo '72 was an evangelical conference sponsored by Campus Crusade for Christ, and was planned and directed by Paul Eshleman.   It was held in various locations in Dallas, Texas from June 12 to June 17, 1972.   Its goal was to train high school and college youth for evangelism, with a vision toward world evangelism.   It is estimated that 80,000 people from across the United States and 75 foreign countries participated in the week-long training.

"We invited scores of Christian organizations to come to EXPLO 72 as our guests, and we didn't charge anything for the booths," said Bill Bright, president of Campus Crusade (Dr. Bright died in July 2003).   "They came to promote their own movements, and asked nothing in return."

Outdoor music concerts/rallies were held during the conference (one or two of them were spontaneous).   Billy Graham spoke six different times.

The final (outdoor) concert was on Saturday, June 17; it lasted eight hours.   It was held in a large open patch of land just north of downtown Dallas that had been cleared for construction of the Woodall Rodgers Freeway.   The completion of this short stretch of highway, which connects I-35 and Highway 75 ("North Central Expressway"), obliterated the festival site.

The crowd at this final concert has been estimated at anywhere from 100,000 to 200,000.   This concert (which, by the way, had no "name"   —   the whole week-long conference was called "Explo 72") has been referred to as the "Christian Woodstock."

One of the attendees was a 14-year-old girl who took the bus all the way from Atlanta, Georgia. Her name was Vanna White.

Some of the songs that were sung at the concerts during the week were recorded, and an album (vinyl   -   remember, this was 1972) was produced called "Jesus Sound Explosion."   The album was not for sale; the only way to obtain a copy was to write to Campus Crusade and ask for one.

The music of "Jesus Sound Explosion:"

Side One:
"I See Men as Trees Walking" (Johnny Cash)
"One Way" (Armageddon Experience)
"Didn't He" (Randy Matthews)
"Satisfied" (Andrae Crouch & the Disciples)
"Sweet Song of Salvation" (Larry Norman)
"Anticipation" (Great Commission Company)

Side Two:
"Spread a Little Love Around" (Danny Lee & the Children of Truth)
"Plenty of Time" (Connie Smith)
"Lord" (Forerunners)
"I Have the Joy in my Soul" (Willa Dorsey)
"Love Song" (Love Song)
"The King is Coming" (The Speer Family)

Love Song, the singing group that got its start at Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, California, made the long trip to Texas by van.   They had brought along copies of their first album (appropriately titled Love Song), which they sold out of the back of their van.   Chuck Girard, the lead singer of Love Song, says, "It can truly be said that Explo '72 was a milestone in our ministry, and one of the turning-point events in our popularity."

Campus Crusade for Christ was criticized for allowing Catholics to participate freely in Explo '72.   Explo '72 was co-sponsored by Billy Graham.   Roman Catholic Churches and members were invited to participate, and did so.   Paul Eshleman, director for Explo 72, said, "Roman Catholics have been involved in arrangements . . . Sisters [nuns] helped with advance registrations; young men studying for the priesthood worked in Explo's Dallas office."

Catholic literature was distributed at Explo.   It read, in part, "True Catholics believe that under the appearance of bread and wine, achieved at the consecration of the mass, the very real body of Christ is present in the tabernacle of their Churches..." (Logos, May-June 1972).   Of course, this kind of statement is "shocking" to most Protestants.

The "Children of God," a Christian cult group led by "Moses David" (true name David Berg), was there also, and they used their love-bomb strong-arm "recruiting" tactics on some of the gullible young Christians who attended.   When it was time to leave, some of the attendees noticed that a few of their members had vanished.   Ultimately, Paul Eshleman found out where the missing people were - the "Children of God" had talked them into getting on THEIR buses - and he confronted them and retrieved/rescued the "recruits."   He had to threaten Linda, David Berg's daughter (the leader of the group), with jail.

Explo '72 was also criticized for sponsoring and endorsing Christian "rock" music. One writer said:

"Between June 12-17, [sic] 1972 more than 75,000 high school and college students met in Dallas, Texas for EXPLO 72.   During the day they attended classes on evangelism and Bible study.   In the evening they gathered at the Cotton Bowl to hear messages by famous preachers and for "Christian" Rock Concerts.   The festival closed on Saturday with an eight-hour Jesus Rock Concert.   Explo was the 'first major transdenominational endorsement of the rock beat as an acceptable Christian music form.'   That was a tragic sin!   They had taken 'strange fire' from the pagan altar and offered it to God.   'I seriously doubt if EXPLO realizes that they have clothed the demonic spirit of this Satanic force in the holy and blood-stained garments of the sinless Son of God.'   Those young people filled their censers at EXPLO and took the 'strange fire' of 'Christian' rock music back to their churches, colleges, and other Christian organizations.   Today, church after church has accepted that strange fire and incorporated it into their worship services and ministries."

Another writer says this about the music of Explo 72:

"Rock music was introduced, reckless abandon prevailed with dancing, sexually suggestive body motions, and seeming hypnotic spells seemed to hit the crowds [sic]."

I wonder what he would have said if he had witnessed the events of Acts 2?