Yakima Valley CityFest Meets Spiritual and Physical Needs in an Unprecedented United Effort

Jul 20, 2010, 20:09 ET from Luis Palau Association

YAKIMA, Wash., July 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Global evangelists Luis and Andrew Palau wrapped up their "Yakima Valley CityFest" this past weekend in Washington State with local leaders expressing amazement over the unprecedented cooperation among churches, businesses, and government.

Festival co-chairman Dr. Dan Doornink, former NFL standout and a physician in Yakima, a city of 71,000 located 100 miles east of Seattle, said the legacy of the area-wide effort was the undeniable teamwork of a diverse group of people. They were united by the festival's goal of sharing in word and deed the positive message of Jesus Christ.

"CityFest and the Season of Service exceeded all our expectations," said Doornink. "We are already working on how to sustain this historic effort for the continued betterment of the Yakima Valley."

The CityFest project began more than a year ago when area pastors committed to bringing their congregations and resources to the effort. Of particular appeal to the churches, businesses, and civic leaders — including Yakima Mayor Micah Cawley — was a component of Palau festivals called the Season of Service. Creating projects that would serve the human needs of the Yakima Valley — homelessness, hunger, health and wellness, education, literacy, neighborhood revitalization, and families in need — the Season of Service was launched in April with the vision of a culminating festival in July.

CityFest was indeed a celebration. By the festival weekend on July 17-18, more than 3,000 volunteers had served in the Season of Service at more than 75 projects. The concept of combining acts of service with an evangelistic festival has drawn the attention of cities across North and South America, Europe and Asia. Several delegates from potential future cities came to Yakima to observe and learn from CityFest. Pastors said the Season of Service effort revolutionized their congregations and they look forward to sustaining the effort into the future.

The festival itself drew a crowd of 21,000 over two days to Yakima's State Fair Park. It featured a nonstop program of music, action sports, and family fun. Top names in contemporary Christian music performed, including Third Day, Hawk Nelson, Kutless, and Crystal Lewis. The Livin It® action sports demos featured the Action Sports Outreach BMX team, the Boarders for Christ skateboard team, and extreme athletes from the MX13 motocross team. Participating athletes shared their testimonies along with youth evangelist Nick Hall.

In cooperation with more than 70 service agencies, a "Compassion Connect" project served an estimated 600 people with services ranging from housing and legal assistance to haircuts, free clothing, hot meals, and medical and dental care.

Addressing the region's large Hispanic population, the Palau team also presented a Spanish language program featuring well-known Latino Christian musicians and a Gospel presentation in Spanish from Luis Palau. "Most of the region's Hispanics come from two of the most unchurched states in Mexico," he said. "We were blessed to have an opportunity to share the Good News to so many in their native language."

Luis' messages focused on the compelling needs of young people and families — from gang violence to financial challenges and sexual temptation. His son Andrew shared a message of faith that included his compelling personal testimony. Hundreds of hands were raised across the crowd as both Palaus extended straightforward invitations to begin a life of faith. Several hundred "friends of the festival" had been trained to counsel new believers who would begin their Christian walk. More than 100 participating churches will welcome them into their congregations.

While Luis was addressing a crowd of 13,000 on Sunday the skies to the west of the State Fair Park turned brown from a massive 10,000-acre fire. CityFest emcee Nick Hall led the festival crowd in a prayer for the firefighters battling the blaze and the many families forced to evacuate their homes.  It was a huge news day for this Central Washington community. Minutes after CityFest concluded, some twenty yards away in the Yakima Valley SunDome, Sir Elton John performed to a crowd of some 7,500.

Future Palau festivals include Santiago, Chile; San Diego, California; Kampala, Uganda; Phoenix, Arizona; and Kingston, Jamaica.

SOURCE Luis Palau Association