Jamaica (MNN) — Jamaica may be a beautiful place to vacation, relax and soak up the sun. But just like any other nation, it's in desperate need of a Savior.
The three-million-person population deals daily with an array of issues from extreme fatherlessness, to poverty, to drug dealing. There is a religious scene on the island, but most claim only a nominal faith.
In fact, world-renowned evangelist Andrew Palau says religiosity can be pestilent for the nation.
"The cultural Christianity can be very deadly. Everybody knows their Bible; they grow up in Sunday school. But the impact it's making on their lives is fairly minimal."
As a result, the Luis Palau Association has been going to Kingston, Jamaica annually for the last nine years to hold the "Fun in the Son" Festival.
This year the "GO KINGSTON" team was able to enter schools, orphanages, and troubled neighborhoods to share the Gospel. Hundreds gave their lives to the Lord as a result.
But the most exciting event of the trip culminated on March 19 with music, praise, preaching and sun. Well over 50,000 people were in attendance–the highest number in the festiva's existence.
Andrew Palau preached a message out of John 8 regarding freedom in Christ.
Palau came to Christ at one of his father's festivals in Jamaica in 1993. He later married a Jamaican as well. Whether his special connection to the people resonated all or none, the Spirit was clearly moving.
"[There were] hundreds and hundreds–even thousands–of people raising their hands just as an indication of a decision they've made for Christ; counselors will follow-up to help them grow and get connected to the local church."
200 trained counselors were standing by to talk one-on-one with those who chose that day to follow the Lord. The team did a lot of personal evangelism training while in Jamaica, as well. As people get connected with local churches, pray that the commitments would be long term.
This year's festival included eight special guests from Haiti. These
pastoral leaders were able to observe the event in preparation for an
upcoming festival in Haiti. Keep up with palau.org for updates.
When we spoke to Palau, he was still in Jamaica planning for next year's "Fun in the Son 2012." 2012 is Jamaica's 50th anniversary of independence, and the Luis Palau Association plans to ramp up next year's event by celebrating and including business and civic leaders. Volunteers and medical teams are needed in bulk for the 2012 festival. If you're interested, watch Palau's Web site for opportunities.