September 29, 2008

Flocking Downtown — Praisefest Entertains, Casts for Converts in Olive Branch

By Toni Lepeska

They sold bejeweled crosses, invited passers-by to Bible studies, gave away water to the thirsty and sang love songs to God.

If you wanted to hear about Jesus and see his people in action Saturday, Praisefest was the place to go.

"It's so great to see all the churches out here for the same agenda - to lead people to Christ," said CityChurch member Donna Flup.

The event, which included more than 50 booths and inflatable play stations for children, was organized by the Olive Branch Old Towne Preservation and Development Association in part to draw shoppers to the area.

"There's been a steady stream all day," said Leigh Harris, president of the Old Towne association, when asked about the crowd.

Parking was at a premium inside the district and at City Hall.

The musical entertainment included Chris Morris and two other artists who rapped about being Christians. After their performance, Morris, who also goes by C. Micah, gave the crowd an invitation.

"I do the music to bring people to Jesus Christ," he said. "You need to meet him. Go to church representatives here."

Praisefest was designed to highlight a variety of local Christian artists, choirs and bands. They performed throughout the festival, but the message of the church was exhibited in a variety of ways, not just musically.

A majority of the rented booths were manned by churches. Some other congregations went as low-tech as simply handing out brochures and starting conversations with people.

Others such as CityChurch set up a flat-screen television and advertised the coming attractions. "Jesus for President" really caught the eye of a lot of passers-by.

That's the title of CityChurch's upcoming six-week message series that will address the economy, war, health care and other hot- button issues swirling in the presidential campaign.

"People will say, 'Man, he's got my vote!'" said pastor Jason Delgado, who starts the series at 10 this morning at Whispering Woods Hotel & Conference Center. "Regardless of who you should vote for, (Jesus) should be the president and resident of your life."

As members of Baker's Chapel United Methodist Church handed out free sweet tea, 8-year-old Cierra Allen of St. Paul M.B. Church walked by asking people if they wanted a free bookmark listing worship service times and Bible verses. She said she liked free stuff, too.

"I got lots of candy," she said.

- Toni Lepeska (662) 996-1409

Originally published by Toni Lepeska / [email protected] .

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