ALBANY, N.Y. - 'Unleashed, guys. Let's get unleashed!' shouted one dad to three young boys before the Promise Keepers conference opening in Albany.
More than 5,500 men and boys were met by lines of women at the entrance of the Pepsi Arena Friday night all of whom cheered in support of the attendants' effort to be inspirited as better men. Women of Encouragement, consisting of mothers, wives and daughters of PK men continuously wished them blessings throughout the two-day conference that concluded Saturday.
Calling it an "awesome" response from the women, David Cantona, 47, from West Congregational Church in Haverhill, Mass. said, "They're telling us 'we appreciate that you're trying to be better men.'"
"It chokes you up," he added. Cantona was joined by his son Dominic and a group of other father and sons in yellow T-shirts, all who traveled from the same church.
Dr. Bob Reccord, key speaker for all 19 PK conferences, struck the men with questions many of the attendants came with. "What happens if we had ... a tough struggle along the journey? What happens if we made mistakes or the mistakes of others have impacted us? ... What happens if we can't just seem to get unleashed from the rut we put ourselves in? What can you do then? Is there any hope?" he asked.
Reccord shocked much of the audience with the personal testimony of his adoption as a neglected child. It's not everyday that he shares his story. But with thousands of men who came with their struggles, Reccord wanted to touch them in the most effective way.
"I began to think about the people who made the greatest impact in my life, and I came to an understanding and remembrance that the people who had spoken or taught and made it sound [like] they had everything together ... didn’t' touch me near as much as the people who said ‘Here's where I've been hurt,’ ‘here's where I struggled,’ [and] ‘here's how adequate God has been,’" Reccord explained.
On Friday night, more than 650 people crowded the front of the stage to dedicate themselves to Christ. Among them, over 280 made the decision for the first time.
"The men who are here can really identify with a life that has struggles in it, that has hurts in it, that has disappointments in it," Reccord commented. "And they resonate with a communication that is honest enough to lay on the table. Every one of us is like this."
When men make a 180 degree turn in their lives, Reccord told them they will be "unleashed" to a promise-filled future.
Frank Dawson, 47, from Londonderry Christian Church in New Hampshire commented, "Men always think they're in control, and [we’re] not. We have to be able to release that to God and Jesus. That's what our problems are; we just think we're in control and we're not." This was Dawson's fourth time at a Promise Keepers conference.
Four conferences along the East Coast have been completed and around 27,000 men have been encouraged to "unleash" their full potential.
"So much of who you are can't be seen," highlighted Bishop Joseph Garlington, one of the conference speakers.
The tens of thousands learned to unleash the raw power of their hearts, but evangelist Michael Silva challenged them not to just make it a two-day moment, but to have God's work alive and constantly active in each man.
"What will I do with what I have been given?" he posed near the close of the conference on Saturday.
Promise Keepers Unleashed Conferences are heading westward and will next open in Des Moines, Iowa, July 7-8.