World-renowned evangelists Luis and Andrew Palau invited by nearly 300 churches to help lead a massive citywide effort focused on blessing the region
FRESNO, Calif., April 10, 2017 /Christian Newswire
/ -- Locals of all ages and demographics gathered on April 1 and 2, 2017, at the Save Mart Center for the 2-day, free, family festival known as Fresno CityFest. One of the largest and most far-reaching collaboration efforts the Central Valley has ever seen, CityFest was the final, culminating celebration of a six-month long, massive campaign, resulting in more than 50 local events and reaching more than 45,000 people.
Photo: Evangelist Luis Palau sharing a message of hope with the crowd at Fresno CityFest on the grounds of the Save Mart Center on Sunday night, April 2, 2017. High resolution version available.
Spearheading the campaign was Festival Chairman Larry Powell, local political analyst, radio host, and former Fresno County Schools Superintendent, along with Pastoral Chairmen Dale Oquist of Peoples Church, Fred Leonard of Mountain View Church, Jymme Foote of Breaking Free Revival Center, Johnny Mendez of Crosspoint Fresno, and Mitch Ribera of New Harvest Church. The CityFest Executive Committee consisted of more than 150 local leaders, pastors, and influencers with the mind of coming together to spark unity, empowerment, and transformation in the Central Valley.
Fresno CityFest featured Grammy-winning artists Lecrae, For King and Country, and Matt Redman, along with Marisol Park, Lincoln Brewster, LZ7, and Soulfire Revolution. World-renowned speaker and author, Luis Palau, and his son, Andrew, shared a message of hope with those in attendance each night.
"We learned everything we know about reaching big cities with the Good News of Jesus Christ here in Fresno, California, so I have a great affection for this place," Luis Palau said after last week's press conference. Palau was referring to his time in Fresno back in 1962 when he served with worldwide evangelist Billy Graham as lead Spanish translator. Palau also visited Fresno back in 1982 for his own crusade, working closely with the late G. L. Johnson.
Four-time CrossFit Games champion and "Fittest Man on Earth," Rich Froning, joined CityFest on Saturday for a fitness competition where he shared about his fitness journey and faith story. The competition was led by local CrossFit box, Certus CrossFit, and drew over 80 competitors competing for cash prizes and meet and greets with Froning.
"If you can concentrate on something that's bigger than yourself, it makes the things in life that are a little bit harder seem a little bit easier," Froning shared of applying his faith journey to his fitness experience and life as a CrossFit Games competitor.
Fresno CityFest launched in January 2016, and since then has been a collaborative effort of close to 300 local churches and organizations that united to bring a positive message of transformation to Fresno, along with impacting the community through multiple outreaches and service opportunities.
Fresno CityServe, a key element of the campaign, launched in September 2016. Led by Artie Padilla of Every Neighborhood Partnership and George Ordway of Communities Inc., this community-focused aspect of Fresno CityFest brought together thousands of volunteers who dedicated more than 145,000 hours to improving the Central Valley. These hours resulted in: 16,000 sack lunches for local children, 18,000 hot meals provided to the local community, 400 trees planted at local schools and neighborhoods, more than 800,000 pounds of food distributed to those in need, and the equivalent of a 6-foot-tall, 32-mile long wall painted clean of graffiti.
The local churches and organizations who blazed the trail for Fresno CityFest and CityServe partnered with renowned author, radio host and speaker, Luis Palau, who has shared his message of hope with more than 1 billion people through evangelistic events and media. Palau has spoken in person to more than 30 million people in 75 countries and is heard daily on over 5,000 radio stations worldwide. Palau additionally has counseled business leaders, political leaders, and heads of state all around the world.
"Christ is relevant to the sociological order, and in America we need it badly today. We can disagree, but disagree with civility. Let's face it, we need to bring reconciliation, and that's one of the things I hope the kids and adults take from [this campaign]," Luis Palau said.
The week leading up to CityFest was packed with events including 17 local prison outreaches led by Luis Palau's son Andrew, a women's luncheon at Valdez Hall, a lunch gathering for business and civic leaders at Save Mart Center, a panel discussion with local leaders for college students held at Fresno State, and a mini festival, La Gran Fiesta en el Valle, held in Reedley for the Spanish speaking community.
"We're known sometimes more for what we're against, rather than what we're for, so we have to work double-time to let people know that we're here for them," Andrew Palau said of his time in Fresno with local leaders. In partnership with Prison Fellowship, Andrew spent the week leading up to CityFest leading outreaches in four local prisons, including Pleasant Valley State Prison, Valley State Prison, Central California Women's Facility, and Substance Abuse Treatment Facility.
"It seems like we're always bombarded with negative news, so today we want to share that there is good news. There is a hope that God intended you to live with," Festival Director, Levi Park said last weekend at Fresno CityFest. "It's good news for those who are in need that the church wants to reach out and help. It's good news that the churches are uniting… The churches and organizations are looking at [Fresno CityFest] as a gift to the city [of Fresno]," Park said.
Going forward, Luis and Andrew Palau, along with the Fresno CityFest Executive Committee and leaders of the Luis Palau Association, hope the unity established through CityFest continues to deepen and spread, eventually encouraging more citywide outreach efforts and ongoing service initiatives throughout the Central Valley.
For more information regarding Fresno CityFest reports and results, contact Chelsea Miller at 239-994-3668 or firstname.lastname@example.org
. Find historic festival photos at: flickr.com/luispalau
and further reports at: fresnocityfest.org
. Additionally, all relevant festival info and insights can be found on Facebook at /Fresno CityFest and Instagram @fresno_cityfest.