Mary Sterenberg has a strong sense of God’s Spirit at work and building momentum as many congregations, organizations, and ministries prepare for a region-wide revival called Cityfest with Luis and Andrew Palau taking place on Sept. 8-9 in downtown Grand Rapids.
Serving as cochair of the prayer team and as a representative of the Christian Reformed Church for this event, Sterenberg said she has seen how preparations for Cityfest have pulled together area Christians in a remarkable way.
These preparations have taken place over the past year and have included prayer gatherings, worship events, outreach, and work-crew efforts in various neighborhoods, seminars on race relations and fair housing, workshops on prison ministry, fiestas and luncheons, and meetings for pastors.
“I have become friends with people of all different denominations and ethnic groups,” said Sterenberg. “I believe Cityfest will be the catalyst to draw us together even after the event. This is a movement of God, and the Holy Spirit is bringing about unity in the church.”
Produced by the Luis Palau Association, Cityfest is one of several major evangelistic campaigns that have taken place over the past 20 years in Washington, D.C.; Fresno, Calif.; New York City; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
The most recent Cityfest was held recently in Eugene, Ore., home of the Luis Palau Association. More than 100 area churches working together for two years helped coordinate the free event that drew a diverse group of more than 9,500 people of all ages to a local park and stadium.
“The Lord worked in awesome ways in Lane County this last week at numerous outreaches and CityFest on July 28 at PK Park. The event was a fun-filled day of music, action sports, activities for kids, and multiple opportunities for individuals to hear a powerful message of hope in Jesus Christ,”according to a press release.
Culminating on Sept. 8-9, Cityfest will take place in Ah-Nab-Awen Park on the banks of the Grand River. Music artists include Lecrae, Tobymac, Mandisa, Danny Gokey, Mac Powell, and the Afters.
In addition, Saturday and Sunday will include a variety of activities for children, including a performance by BMX and FMX bike riders. Luis and Andrew Palau will share a message each night.
The CityFest campaign in West Michigan came about as a result of years of prayer and planning by hundreds of leaders from the faith, business, and civic communities and the surrounding area.
At the core of planning, preparing, putting on, and following up from Cityfest has been and will be prayer. Thousands of Trained Festival Friends will pray with those who respond to the messages. In addition, prayer ministers will be available in a prayer tent after 3 p.m. each day to pray with anyone seeking individual prayer ministry. Anyone interested in joining the 1,700 people already signed up to pray for Cityfest can click here.
“I believe God is doing this, and I’ve already seen salvations come out of this,” said Sterenberg. “We are also intent on following up with people who make commitments to Christ and directing them to local participating churches, Alpha groups, and Immerse Bible Reading Experiences, for ongoing discipleship.”
When Christians in the early church experienced the first signs of persecution, the apostles Peter and John called other leaders and believers together to pray (Acts 4:23-31).
Rev. Peter Jonker, a pastor at LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids and a pastoral chairperson of Cityfest, said the Palaus and other Cityfest organizers, even before the September event, have brought energy and renewal to churches and people across the area. They have helped to create an atmosphere similar to that described in Acts — a movement of the Spirit touching lives and spreading the gospel to all corners of West Michigan.
Joe Stowell, president of Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids and a cochair of the CityFest executive team, stated that faith in Christ, forged in prayer and with a willingness of so many churches to work together, is a powerful thing to witness.
“We believe every great movement of God launched because believers united in prayer,” he said.
“We’re trusting God will do a great work, and we’re praying CityFest will shape history and trigger a great revival in West Michigan.”
The event is free and open to the public and is set to encourage the community with prayer and worship. “Believers are encouraged to invite their friends and family members who do not yet have a relationship with Christ,” said Sterenberg.
As part of its outreach strategy, the Palau Association goes to numerous cities across the world proclaiming the gospel.
Each year includes different venues as Luis and Andrew Palau respond to invitations from city leaders who believe their community is ready and able for a CityFest.
Earlier this year, Luis Palau announced that he has stage-4 lung cancer. A recent update stated that he is responding favorably to treatments.
“We have been praying for him a lot, and it is Luis's desire to be healthy enough to minister in West Michigan,” said Sterenberg. “We continue to pray that God gives him the health, strength, and stamina to fully participate in September.”
Cityfest is still in need of volunteers to help with various aspects of the event. Visit cityfestwestmichigan.org