West Virginia has seen more than its fair share of drug-related deaths in recent years. But, there are people in the Mountain State who are out there fighting this opioid epidemic. One in particular is Todd Bowen, who runs the multi-city New Life Clinics that help folks to stay alive and defeat their addictions.
Last year, Bowen came up with the idea of bringing the Breaking Chains Music Festival to the Mason County Fairgrounds in nearby Point Pleasant, West Virginia. The contemporary Christian music festival usually tours in bigger cities and at big universities. But, last year's Breaking Chains Festival was so successful, they brought back again this year.
The Breaking Chains Festival will take place from 4 to 10 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 18 at the Mason County Fairgrounds, 1277 Fairground Road in Point Pleasant. Tickets range from $25 for general admission all of the way up to $150 for VIP tickets with special amenities. Children 3 and under are free. This will be an outdoor, rain-or-shine show, so guests are encouraged to bring chairs, blankets and umbrellas. Food vendors will be available at the venue. More information can be found at breakingchainsfestival.com.
This year's Breaking Chains Festival will feature performances by MercyMe, Zach Williams, Ryan Stevenson and We The Kingdom. There will also be a special appearance by Mike Lindell, creator and owner of the popular My Pillow Company, and a former substance abuser who occasionally gives speeches about overcoming his drug battle.
MercyMe is a popular Contemporary Christian rock group that has won eight Dove Awards. They have stayed on top of the Billboard Christian album chart with each new album. Hailing from Texas and now Nashville, MercyMe has an impressive 2 million followers on Facebook and they have seven videos on YouTube with 10 million views or more, including the video for their song "Even If" that has garnered an astounding 72 million views.
Zach Williams is an Arkansas native who has also climbed the charts with his Christian music. Before then, however, Williams experienced his own long battle with drugs and alcohol that nearly cost him his life. But he eventually turned it all around and pursued Christian music as a career, armed with a true life story that keeps his testimony genuine and powerful. Williams was named Billboard Magazine's Top Male Christian Artist in 2017, he won a Grammy Award in 2018 for Best Contemporary Christian Album and was nominated for a Grammy Award yet again in 2019.
Contemporary Christian singer Ryan Stevenson hails from Bonanza, Oregon, and was a paramedic for several years before becoming a full-time Contemporary Christian musician. Stevenson won a Dove Award in 2017 for Pop/Contemporary Christian Song of the Year for "Eye of the Storm."
We The Kingdom is a band led by Ed Cash, who is perhaps more well-known as a producer, engineer, songwriter and musician. Cash has collaborated over the years with artists ranging from Dolly Parton and Vince Gill to Steven Curtis Chapman, Amy Grant and Casting Crowns.
This is the second year for the Breaking Chains Festival in Point Pleasant, something Todd Bowen and is team decided to do again after the impressive response in 2018.
"Last year, we sold a couple thousand tickets going in to the show, and then, all of a sudden, we had a seven mile-long traffic jam," Bowen said. "As a result, we will open up more gates this year and we have added more seating and parking."
At the heart of the Breaking Chains Festival is the desire to help folks come out of the darkness of hard drug abuse before they are found dead, lying on the street or slumped in the corner of an abandoned house.
"The reason why I started this event was to, first and foremost, create a fun night of worship," said Bowen, of the New Life Clinics. "We want to lead people to God and show that there is hope, and to bring in speakers like Mike Lindell of My Pillow Company to tell their stories that not only will touch the drug addicted among us, but also touch their family members who may have given up hope. A lot of family members of the addicted have given up, and I have heard it straight from their mouths. But, I always encourage them, tell them that I'm going to pray for you and that you just cannot give up because that can drive the addict even further down. That is why this whole concert and show is about the message of hope."
Bowen is a Huntington native.
"I graduated from Huntington East High School in 1992," Bowen said. "I do not have a New Life Clinic location in Huntington yet, but our main offices and new detox clinic are here in Point Pleasant and we have clinics in Charleston, Beckley and Martinsburg. If an insurance company doesn't want to pay for a doctor's order or something else that we know is needed for the best care for the patient, we do it anyway, even if we have to eat the cost. You can't place a financial burden on someone who is trying to battle addiction. It only takes a little negative to make a big mistake. So, we keep treating them regardless of whether we get paid or not. And that is why 100% of the profit from this Breaking Chains Festival will go to the patients and to help educate the public."