International evangelist Luis Palau and his evangelist son Andrew wrapped a six-month-long initiative in Alaska this past weekend, partnering with hundreds of faith, business and civic leaders to serve the state and share a clear message of hope through Jesus Christ.
The campaign concluded with two major festivals, one led by Luis Palau in Anchorage, the other in Fairbanks with Andrew. Both festivals enjoyed the support and participation of many local churches as well as some of Christian music's most beloved artists, including TobyMac, Thousand Foot Crutch, Lincoln Brewster, Kutless and many more.
As a last minute addition to the initiative, a one-hour, prime-time television broadcast of the Anchorage festival helped spread Palau's message of hope to the entire state on Monday and Tuesday nights.
Love Alaska Festival represented the finale of a region-wide community service effort that began in January of 2014. Thousands of volunteers from local churches participated in dozens of service projects throughout the state, focusing specifically on issues of hunger, homelessness, neighborhood revitalization, foster care and education.
The two evangelists joined forces with many local leaders to make Love Alaska possible. They included Governor Sean Parnell of Alaska who delivered opening remarks at the festival in Anchorage on Saturday. He was part of the campaign's board of reference and a great encourager of the long-term initiative.
"A big thanks to the thousands of Alaskans from 175 churches who joined together in volunteering their time in acts of service for their fellow Alaskans," shared the Governor on his Facebook page. "Over the last six months these Alaskans fed, cared for and visited others in need, made repairs for those who couldn't and became mentors for children, among other acts of service. ... Great job all!"
Other key leaders of the campaign were former Lieutenant Governor Loren Leman and former Wells Fargo Regional President Richard Strutz.
The campaign also included several initiatives in outlying communities. Enlisting the help of a handful of partner evangelists and many more churches, a message of hope was shared with thousands of people in Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, Wasilla and Kenai through youth rallies, action sports demonstrations and mini festivals. Luis and Andrew Palau also helped lead several additional gatherings throughout the region, including gatherings for women, business leaders, the Hispanic community, military and prisoners.
"This truly was a statewide initiative," said Luis Palau. "How wonderful to see so many churches, from so many different areas and backgrounds, setting aside their differences to serve their community and share the good news of Jesus Christ."
Hundreds of pastors took on strong leadership roles to make the initiative a success. Their strategic involvement and ownership helped spread the word, recruit volunteers, raise funds and pull off the necessary logistics.
"This is just the beginning!" said Richard Irwin II, pastor of Anchorage City Church. "We have a vision for the long term ... that these collaborative relationships with one another will continue. We want to say thank you so much to the Palau organization. They have been wonderful to work with."
Several leaders from throughout the nation were also invited to take part in the festival. Norm Miller, president of Interstate Batteries and a friend of Luis Palau, traveled from Dallas, Texas, to share his testimony with business leaders and see the festival for himself. Mike Novak, president of K-LOVE radio network, as well as several invited guests from New York City, also took part in the campaign.
"This is so inspiring to see," said Rick Del Rio, pastor of Abounding Grace Ministry in Manhattan. "The team came in with so much humility and integrity. We're so excited to take this back to New York City and share it with other pastors."
"The cross of Jesus Christ, when He shed His blood, he paid the penalty for us," said Andrew Palau in Fairbanks during the festival there. "It's an offer and a gift that we give in His name to the people of Alaska! That's why we're here."
By design, the Love Alaska campaign was several years in the making and will continue on for many years to come. Local leaders have made it clear they want to continue on in unity, serving the city and proclaiming a clear message of hope to those who need it most. Leaders from the Luis Palau Association will continue to encourage, train and guide leaders in Alaska, offering insight and wisdom as they move forward.
More information can be found at lovealaska.org and on Facebook at Luis Palau Love Alaska.