KINGSTON, Jamaica — Approximately 80,000 people flooded National Heroes Park — the largest open space in Kingston, Jamaica — on Saturday for the 10th annual Fun in the Son music festival. World evangelist Andrew Palau, singer Kirk Franklin, and a bevy of Jamaican artists set their sights on transforming the community through music, service, and the Good News of Jesus Christ. The festival was an official part of Jamaica's Year of Jubilee, celebrating 50 years of national independence.
Audience and organizers alike say this year marks a milestone in the festival's size and impact. "I was speechless," read a tweet from Franklin on Sunday. "They didn't come for me…they came to see the King!" Other performers included local favorites Junior Tucker, Goddy Goddy, Carlene Davis, DJ Nicholas, and Papa San, who closed the show with a dynamic and emotional performance.
Palau gave a potent, biblical message, sharing how he chose to follow Jesus at a similar event in Kingston in 1993. "What could you possibly be waiting for?" he asked as he invited the crowd to pray. "Don't wait one more day to respond to God."
About 3,000 people made a decision to follow Jesus during the Fun in the Son campaign, including 1,164 who texted in their responses within 15 minutes of Palau's message. "It was beautiful," said Ann-Marie Francis, who lives in Kingston. Francis also expressed a hope that the annual event would continue. "The community needs it. We need it bad… it can save a lot of souls."
While the one-day festival proved to be the centerpiece of the initiative, the Fun in the Son campaign began one week earlier with outreaches in prisons, schools, and inner-city neighborhoods.
On Wednesday evening, the Palau team led an outreach in the centre of Trench Town, one of Kingston's most volatile neighborhoods. Extreme sports athletes, returning for their second year of performing at Fun in the Son, rode through Trench Town's streets, gathering children of all ages to the Ambassador Theatre for an evening of music and a message of hope.
Festival organizers also took some of the music and extreme sports to two Jamaican prisons and shared the Good News of Jesus with about 2,500 inmates. Throughout the week, mission teams from Nebraska, Florida, and Oregon performed evangelistic outreaches and community service projects, such as painting classrooms and providing entertainment for children at local schools and orphanages.