Luis Palau Festival Heats Up 75K in Sacramento
SACRAMENTO,Calif.—On a Father's Day Weekend when meteorologists were telling people to stay inside, more than 75,000 central Californians packed three events at a historic Luis Palau Festival in Sacramento, Calif.
Temperatures were well over 100 degrees Saturday and Sunday on the grounds of Cal Expo, where Palau's free evangelistic outreach was staged. Major Christian artists TobyMac, Skillet, Mandisa, Phil Wickham and Lincoln Brewster performed; the Amazing Wonders Family Experience and play area drew thousands of kids and families; and Action Sports demos showcased some of America's top extreme athletes.
"We were ecstatic with the response from the Sacramento Valley and beyond," world evangelist and author Luis Palau said. "We've prayed for an opportunity to come to the state capitol for decades, and we were richly blessed."
The bilingual Palau added a Spanish-language event Friday night at Capital Christian Center, one of the area's largest churches and one of more than 470 congregations and businesses supporting the festival. The celebration also represented the culmination of a six-month initiative called The Season of Service, which brought together the faith community in acts of service.
The SOS campaign had a particular focus on neighborhood and school renovation, health and welfare, hunger and homelessness, completing more than 200 projects involving an estimated 20,000 volunteers. Many of these projects will continue long-term.
"It was everything we have hoped and prayed for over the last seven years," said Henry Wells, former pastor of Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church and an early leader in efforts to bring the Palau ministry to Sacramento. "The support grew from a small group of clergy and laypeople to a huge campaign that united churches all over the Sacramento valley."
"You have the church community, you have public entities, you have nonprofits ... all coming together," Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said of the initiative. "The ministry that happens within the walls of our churches is great, but what happens beyond the walls of the church is where the real ministry takes place."
Unity was a recurring theme as churches across denominations and cultures worked together to promote the festival and meet some of the city's critical needs. Hispanic, Russian, Chinese and other ethnic congregations joined in sharing the love of Jesus across the culturally diverse region. Palau's son Andrew, himself an international evangelist, teamed with Prison Fellowship and extreme sports athletes to extend the outreach to inmates at Folsom and Solano prisons.
Throughout the festival week, Luis Palau shared the Gospel message in a variety of settings, including luncheons for business and civic leaders, a luncheon for women, and an appearance at the Capitol to address state leadership. His messages tied the Gospel to the challenges of contemporary culture, including the fragility of life and the important role of fathers.
"So many of today's young people are leading fatherless lives,"Palau said. "We wanted them to know that there is love and hope through their heavenly Father."
The Sacramento festival will be the only U.S.stop in a busy year that includes events in Eastern Europe, Great Britain, South America, Africa and Australia. The Oregon-based Luis Palau Association has brought a message of hope through faith to more than a billion people through radio, television, books and the Internet, including 30 million people face-to-face in 74 countries. Palau's latest book, Out of the Desert: Into the Life God Fully Intended, was released early this month.