Luis Palau Festival Draws 60,000 to Central Park
NEW YORK CITY -- Evangelist Luis Palau is covering America's largest city with the gospel.
This weekend, his ministry is taking over New York's Central Park with a festival that's taken three years to plan.
It takes days of work and hundreds of people to turn the famous park into center stage for City Fest, Palau's latest Christian crusade -- an outdoor service for 60,000 people.
CBN News Efrem Graham toured the area with the evangelist as he sized up final preparations.
"It's the largest one I have ever seen that we have used - except maybe Buenos Aires and Argentina, which was sort of large," he said. "This one is so massive. And the city skyline, that is what really gets you."
Watch Saturday's event LIVE here:
The vibrant 80 year old has personally preached to more than 30 million people in 75 countries.
It's taken a long time and a lot of work to bring the good news to the Big Apple. Palau's team partnered with city government and more than 1,700 churches three years ago to create NY City Serve.
They then rolled up their sleeves to lift up the city's poorest residents.
Many pastors have said to me you unconciously begin to forget that reaching out through evangelism is what the Church really is all about, together with worshiping God and loving one another and serving," Palau said.
New York City is home to at least 8 million people who speak more than 200 languages. It's the perfect place for God to reap an incredible harvest.
Yet it takes money to reach them. The price tag for Palau's festival has climbed to more than $10 million.
"When you see all the people around, you realize, man this is not a giveaway," Palau said. "And then to spread the good news in a city this size, you need even more. We could have used more and done more."
City restrictions limit the size of crowds at festivals and concerts in Central Park to no more than 60,000. Although this event is free, everyone must have a ticket. Palau and his team ran out of tickets days ago, leaving thousands on a waiting list.
For the evangelist, that is the only frustrating thing.
"Sixty thousand is the maximum they will allow inside this section of the park, or any section. That is what we have to live with," he said. "I think if it had been open and we could have gone anywhere in the park, we would have had a quarter of a million or a half a million.
No matter how many pack Central Park Saturday, Palau has one prayer when he takes the stage -- that many will open their hearts to accept the Jesus he is preaching about.
"And in years to come, as we have seen all over the world, we expect to see many a minister, many a leader who was converted as a young person, or even a child, here and then being used of God in decades to come," he said.
They are words spoken from the heart of a man inspired by famed evangelist Billy Graham many years ago.