SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Standing on top of a skate platform, Nick Hall preached the Gospel message to hundreds of teens, but without the traditional language found in church.
"Jesus kicked Satan's butt and he rose from the dead and Jesus is alive today in San Diego!" he shouted to cheers at a Luis Palau evangelistic festival on Saturday.
The one-day San Diego CityFest drew more than 40,000 people to the grounds of Mission Bay Park. Families, teens and adults were provided with plenty of entertainment – from action sports to a Family Fun Zone and a full-on music concert. But the Gospel prevailed the scene as each athlete and music artist served as their own evangelists, pointing the large crowds back to Jesus.
"God is in this park and He's calling you home today. He's calling you to come back to Him and be His child," said Hall, founder of Pulse, to youths standing on the perimeter of a makeshift skate park.
"We've all messed up," said the young preacher, who speaks to students across the country every year. "We've put our trust in the things of this world. Sin deserves death and separation from God forever. We've all sinned."
"This is why Jesus had to come," he explained. "Jesus is the only person in history that has said 'I am the way to God, ... who took your sin and shame all the way to the cross. No one else died for your sin."
Dozens of people moved toward the skate ramp as they accepted Christ and prayed with counselors, skaters and BMX riders.
They were reminded that "no magic potion" was going to save them, as Hall put it. They themselves had to cry out to God and put their trust in Him.
That was one of several opportunities festival attendees were given throughout the day to accept Christ.
Though evangelist Luis Palau was the main preacher at the event, he was supported by other featured guests in his goal to bring non-Christians and dechurched believers into a true relationship with Jesus Christ.
"We're here to tell you today that God loves you," said singer/songwriter Phil Wickham as he took the main stage Saturday.
"The Jesus who healed the blind, ... loved the outcast, the Jesus who hung on a cross for your sin and my sin, that same Jesus, he was here 2,000 years ago but his power still remains," he told the crowd.
Near the end of the night, Palau tried to assure attendees that they can have eternal life.
He acknowledged that many young people have an "inherited faith," in which they were taken to church by their parents but never really converted. As a result, many Christians do not have the assurance of eternal life.
"You can know you have eternal life," Palau, who recently celebrated 50 years of evangelism, stressed. "Eternal life is a gift of God. You don't pay for it. You don't barter with God. Certainly, you don't buy eternal life by doing good deeds."
"If you have the Son of God, you have eternal life. It's not something you get when you die. It's having Christ in us," he said.
Rather than an altar call, Palau asked the crowd to pray the prayer to accept Christ from where they stood. Counselors were available to answer questions and guide them on their next steps.
After 11 years of employing the "festival model," the 75-year-old evangelist said his team is beginning to reevaluate and prepare for the next 10 years of ministry as the culture continues to change.
Luis Palau festivals have drawn more than 8.5 million people since 1999. Palau has shared the Gospel in person to 25 million people in 72 countries.