Lecrae, Vikings team up with PULSE to fill U.S. Bank Stadium for Jesus

MINNEAPOLIS — Before Friday night, a Grammy Award-winning hip-hop artist, an Olympic gold medalist, a successor to Billy Graham ministries, an inventor-turned-TV infomercial star, a couple of Minnesota Vikings and tens of thousands of others may not have had much reason to unite as one massive contingent.

On May 18, Pulse Twin Cities gave them a reason.

Three months after it played host to the Philadelphia Eagles’ historic Super Bowl LII victory, U.S. Bank Stadium made a new kind of history by opening its doors to evangelist Nick Hall and his 10-year-old PULSE movement, a city and campus outreach that’s shared its heart — “the message of Jesus” — to something like 4.5 million people in 21 different countries. And Hall, the president and CEO of the Graham-founded Mission America Coalition, wasn’t alone in proclaiming to Minneapolis that today’s generation can find hope in Christ.

The Vikings, the Minnesota United FC soccer team and humanitarian aid organization World Vision all sponsored the free program, but it was the diverse crowd of celebrity guests — and an all-hands-on-deck experiment for the entire audience — that helped make Pulse Twin Cities one of the largest faith-based events in Minnesota since the late Graham’s own crusade in 1996.

There was Lecrae, a staple of Christian rap whose 2017 record with Tori Kelly went gold. There was Jabbawockeez, the group that once won “America’s Best Dance Crew.” There was Mike Lindell, the TV-famous inventor of MyPillow, whose staff filled all 66,200 of the stadium’s seats with pillows and later led the world’s biggest pillow fight.

There was Gigi Marvin, who’s represented U.S. women’s ice hockey in the last three Winter Olympics.

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There was C.J. Ham and Everson Griffen, two veteran Vikings who call U.S. Bank Stadium their home in the fall.

All of them united to make known that Jesus is the answer to “a collective longing for healing, hope and purpose.”

“It’s amazing,” Lecrae said. “It’s beautiful … Transparency is what people connect with, and when they see you’re a real person and they’re a real person and God can do amazing things in your life, then it connects.”

Lecrae wouldn’t commit to a conversion to Vikings fanhood because of Minnesota’s warm welcome — “I’m a die-hard Atlanta Falcons fan; ain’t nothing going to change about that.” But Ham, one of the real-life Vikings on hand, backed the artist’s enthusiasm for an event with so big a scale and yet so intimate a purpose.

“It’s a beautiful stadium, a beautiful venue,” the third-year fullback said. “Just to see it used to spread the love of Christ is life-changing, it’s awesome (and) it means a lot to me.”

Kirk Cousins, the Vikings’ prized offseason addition at quarterback and, according to Ham, “an unbelievable human being” who “loves the Lord,” also joined the event with a message of encouragement from the stadium’s video board, as did Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier.

Sports, then, were as much a part of Pulse Twin Cities as the musical lineup, which saw singer Tye Tribbett and Sydney group Hillsong Young & Free precede Lecrae on stage. Hall himself even referenced New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who once suggested that fame wasn’t enough to satisfy him, while speaking to the crowd. And the night’s biggest collaboration, when thousands took up their pillows to break a Guinness World Record, was pretty sporty by the looks of how many feathers exploded throughout the stadium.

But Hall also made the night about pop culture, using a quote from Letitia Wright, star of “Black Panther,” to drive home the evening’s biggest point and his movement’s core belief: “Jesus is real.”

That’s because, in a symbol of the diverse crowd that flooded U.S. Bank Stadium, the 700-plus partner churches that promoted it and, even more so, the global church of Christ, Pulse Twin Cities was never just about culture, music, sports or big names.

It was about each and every one of them, united for a reason.