An estimated 120,000 people crowded Tempe Beach Park in Tempe, Ariz., over two days this past weekend to hear evangelist Luis Palau share the gospel and to enjoy live musical performances from top Christian artists such as TobyMac and Skillet.
The family-friendly festival paid special attention to the heavy Spanish-speaking population in Arizona by offering a special Spanish program on Saturday afternoon and including Latin pop music artists such as Marisol and Contagious.
On Sunday, Andrew Palau, the son of Luis Palau, shared his testimony of how he lived a wild lifestyle – partying, drinking, smoking marijuana – and building his reputation as the craziest and wildest kid in town.
He shared how his parents kept praying for him and how his parents understood that only God could convince him to live a godly lifestyle. It wasn't until Andrew Palau was 27-years-old that he decided to give his life to Christ. It was while he was listening to his father preach at a festival in Jamaica that he gave his life to Jesus.
Several prominent figures that came to the event included Tempe Mayor Huge Hallman, who attended the festival on Saturday, and Josh Hamilton, MVP player for the Texas Rangers, who shared his testimony on the closing day.
"Arizona CityFest was a great success! Many souls came to know the Lord. Thank you for praying and serving and bringing your friends! Continue to pray for all of Arizona!" Luis Palau wrote on his Facebook page on Sunday night.
The Arizona CityFest was the culminating event of the "Season of Services," a community service movement founded by Palau that has resulted in tens of thousands of volunteers in the state of Arizona alone serving in projects focused on homelessness, hunger, schools neighborhood revitalization and families in need. The idea has been replicated in cities across the United States. The campaign in Arizona launched last October and records about 25,000 volunteers from 550 local churches involved in community services.
"The churches are saying [the campaign] has changed their DNA," said Bret Edson, local campaign chairman, to The Arizona Republic. "They're now more outward-focused."
Trademark Palau festival attractions such as action sports demos featuring professional and amateur athletes from the extreme sports of skateboarding, freestyle motocross and BMX were part of the Arizona CityFest.
Since 1999, Luis Palau festivals have drawn more than 8.8 million people. The Argentina-born evangelist claims to have shared the gospel to more than a billion people through radio, television, the Internet, books and articles.