MARSHALL ? Being part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) organization has been a positive experience for a number of area teens. Recently, a group of Marshall girls showed just how powerful they could be as instruments of God, working together to bring a popular Christian artist and band to their hometown.
About a month-and-a-half ago, Marshall High School sophomore Morgan Saugstad asked her mother Linda to e-mail Britt Nicole, a Christian pop artist, to see if she would agree to perform in Marshall.
"We saw that Britt Nicole was close by, about two hours away," Saugstad said. "She had an open date, we noticed, so we e-mailed her to see if she'd be able to come down."
Photo by Jenny Kirk
Fellowship of Christian Athletes members, from left, Kelsey Saugstad, Marah Mulso, Morgan Saugstad, Lexi Saugstad and Julia Marshall recently put their abilities and efforts together, initiating and coordinating every detail involved in bringing Christian music to Marshall.
MHS freshmen Marah Mulso and Lexi Saugstad, Morgan's sister, were also in on the conversation that day.
"We had wanted to go to her concert, but we were like 'why not just bring her here?'" Mulso said. "Her music is really uplifting and just makes you feel good. It's really fun to listen to."
Morgan Saugstad said that she and the others drew inspiration from a familiar Bible verse.
"1 Timothy 4:12 says, 'Don't let anyone look down on you because you're young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity,'" she said.
The trio of students also found support from their family members.
"It was kinda cool," Linda Saugstad said. "Their dads said, 'well, yeah, if you believe in something, then you need to go ahead and try.'"
Once the teenagers realized that it was actually a possibility to bring the artist to Marshall, Lexi Saugstad said, a committee was formed.
"We started working on everything that needed to get done," she said. "It was nice because there were a lot of people more than willing to help."
One of the first advocates the girls thought of for guidance was Robin Knudson, their southwest Minnesota FCA field associate.
"They have a great role model in Robin and her husband," Linda Saugstad said. "They're just awesome people. Kids need good role models and they're hard to find. We're also lucky to be surrounded by good coaches."
Though the Marshall area FCA had never undertaken such a huge task, Knudson said she was happy to provide encouragement and assurance.
"I always said that however the Lord is working, I'll go along with it," she said. "It's been amazing."
Knudson pointed out that out of about 100 calls that Britt Nicole's booking agent receives, maybe five of them pan out, making the girls' accomplishment even more priceless.
"It's exciting that she's coming to Marshall," Knudson said. "God has opened every single door and we've just kept walking through him, taking steps of faith. And, these girls have led the way."
Pulling off the task, however, was not entirely easy, the organizers said.
"When we had our first meeting, we said, 'we need to raise $8,000 in eight days," Knudson said. "And they did. We had $70 over our goal."
More than 30 local businesses donated to the cause.
"We started out calling and then we made meetings with a lot of the businesses," MHS freshman Julia Marshall said.
The girls said they were grateful for the generous sponsorship within the community.
"The Marshall businesses have hearts of gold," Linda Saugstad said.
Ironically, the message the girls said they've received in listening to Britt Nicole's music is that every single one of them are "worth more than gold," as the lyrics suggest in the artist's title track "Gold."
"It's a different type of Christian music," Lexi Saugstad said. "Like, it's really upbeat and stuff. Her lyrics are really good and have a really good meaning."
Knudson believes that Britt Nicole's management agreed to come to Marshall because they knew the story and passion of the girls.
"That's exactly who Britt Nicole wants to bless," Knudson said. "It fits right into her mission and what her passion is, for young people to be encouraged."
As everything seemingly fell into place along the journey, Morgan Saugstad took the time to thank a higher power.
"We just want to give all the glory and praise to God because he provided all this," she said. "He provided the sponsors that came and provided for us."
The organizers believe that God opened another avenue for the group when they were contacted by Manic Drive, a Christian rock band from Canada.
"It was going to be $3,000 for Britt to bring all her equipment, plus what she costs, so we were trying to find a cheaper way to do that," Lexi Saugstad said. "Manic Drive said they would bring all their equipment and open for her for $2,000."
MHS senior Kelsey Saugstad said it was the best of both worlds, since it was $1,000 cheaper and included an additional band.
"Now we have two bands and it was cheaper," she said. "We're hoping to sell out. That's our ultimate goal now."
Knudson admits that financially, especially, the effort to get well-known bands to come to Marshall was "totally out of their league. We've never done anything like this," she said.
The concert begins at 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 23, at the Schwan's Center for the Performing Arts at Marshall High School. Advance tickets are $8 and are sold at Treasured Times, Noble Woman, Hy-Vee, County Fair and iTickets. Ticket prices will be $10 at the door.