After years of preparation and prayer, thousands of followers of Jesus and hundreds of churches throughout East Texas came together earlier this month for CityFest East Texas with Andrew Palau, culminating in a free, two-day, evangelistic festival at The Square in downtown Tyler.
Hosted by 405 churches, businesses, and nonprofits, the year-long, region-wide CityFest campaign has been focused on serving the East Texas region and proclaiming a powerful message of hope in Jesus through multiple evangelistic gatherings, revival meetings, training events, and community service initiatives. Like all Palau festivals, much care and attention has been given to church unity, community service, training in personal evangelism, and clear public proclamation of the Gospel.
“So many people have questions about God,” shared Palau. “Is He real? Does He care about me? Is there hope for me?
“We want everyone to know that God is real and He is good,” he continued. “He loves you. He wants the best for you. He sent His son to die for you so that you may have life, and life in abundance! There’s nothing more important or life-changing that we can share with the world than the Good News of Jesus Christ – that He loves you, died for you, rose again for you, and wants a relationship with you. That is what CityFest East Texas is all about.”
To expand the reach of CityFest East Texas and this message of hope, Palau led multiple outreaches and gatherings throughout the region during “festival week.” Events included prison outreaches (with the help of Prison Fellowship), an evangelistic luncheon for men (with the help of Clark Hunt, CEO of the Kansas City Chiefs), a gathering for 800 women (led by Palau’s wife, Wendy), a Spanish-speaking event for more than 2,500 Latinos (hosted by Green Acres Baptist Church), and a CityFest Buckout at Cross Brand Cowboy Church (that included an appearance from Duck Commander Phil Robertson).
All this was in the lead up to the two-day festival, October 5-6, at The Square in downtown Tyler featuring award-winning artists Newsboys United, Lecrae, Neal McCoy, Pat Barrett, Marisol Park, Blanca, and Ryan Stevenson.
Each night, Palau shared a clear Gospel message and challenged those in the crowd – and the thousands who tuned in online – to give their lives to Jesus Christ. The two-day festival also hosted an interactive family fun zone, stunt demos from professional skaters and BMX athletes (in partnership with The Stunt Dudes), and multiple presentations of the Gospel.
According to the Palau Association, many notable East Texas leaders put their names and energy behind CityFest. In addition to the 405 partnering churches, business leaders Elam Swann, Rocky Gil, and Mike Tidwell acted as the co-chairs for the campaign. Tyler Mayor Martin Heines was also involved in the effort. Heines joined Palau on stage the first night of the festival, noting that “this is the largest crowd we’ve ever had in the square downtown.”
In total, CityFest organizers estimate more than 37,000 people were reached in person through the weeklong campaign, with tens of thousands more tuning in to the multiple live broadcasts.
This month’s event marked 24 years since the Palau Association first visited Tyler. The first campaign in 1995 was led by Palau’s father, evangelist Luis Palau, and established many long-term relationships within the community. Many of the churches and leaders involved in CityFest were also involved in the 1995 campaign and were the initiators for this new effort to reach the next generation with a message of hope.
With CityFest acting as a catalyst, the movement has also been providing opportunities for the churches of East Texas to set aside differences and unite in service. Under the CityServe East Texas banner, the churches are focusing on several areas of need including foster care and adoption, combating sexual exploitation, ending homelessness, racial reconciliation, and mentoring.
While local leaders continue in this effort, the Palau Association will move on to support similar campaigns in cities across the globe. Upcoming cities include Albuquerque, New Mexico; Brevard County, Florida; Cape Town, South Africa; Berlin, Germany; Wolverhampton, England; Mulhouse, France; Blantyre, Malawi; and Buenos Aires, Argentina.
For more information about CityServe East Texas, visit www.cityserveeasttexas.org.