Make Jesus Famous Festival comes to Danville

Published 4:33 pm Wednesday, August 9, 2023


The Make Jesus Famous Festival is coming to Danville on Friday and Saturday. The event will start at 7 p.m. both days in Constitution Square Park. Admission is free.

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Mainly touring in Africa, this is the festival’s first concert in the United States. It will feature Nashville recording artists Matt Koziol and Chasing Judah. After the bands finish singing, the Make Jesus Famous Festival Director Dean Morris will share a simple message about Jesus, and will lead prayer time.

There will be seven or more food trucks parked on Second Street. The UK Wildcat mascot will be making a special appearance on Friday night. The festival is for people from any background, religion and culture to enjoy music, food, and learn about the Christian gospel.

Morris has been traveling in Africa and Asia doing big festivals for six years, including in Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Indonesia. The festivals have hosted anywhere from 15,000 to 70,000 people, and Morris said they’ve seen miracles happen at the events.

“All over the world we’ve seen mass amounts of people respond to the simple gospel message of Jesus, and we’ve seen countless physical miracles happen, anywhere from blind eyes opening, deaf ears, people coming in on wheelchairs, all that kind of stuff,” Morris said.

The next morning after festivals, Morris usually sends a team to talk with people who may have been healed at the event, to confirm if they’d actually been healed. Morris said that he cannot make miracles happen, that it’s up to God to show himself through healing miracles, or signs and wonders.

“My job is to be a witness to who Jesus is, that he’s the one who has to confirm his message with signs and wonders; I can’t do any of that,” Morris explained. “Every night I tell people, ‘if you came to me looking for a miracle, you’re not going to get anything; my hand is so short I can’t even reach the front row, but there’s a hand here tonight who extends to you and that’s the hand of Jesus,’ and then I just pray for Jesus to back up his message with signs and wonders.”

After spending many years doing ministry overseas, Morris said he got discouraged looking at the spiritual climate of the U.S., declining church attendance, mental health statistics, among other things.

“I see that suicide rates are up, depression and anxiety are through the roof,” Morris said. “Especially after Covid, it just seems that the joy and peace people had just seemed to go.”

He wanted to bring the festival to the U.S., and Danville is their first festival in the country.

“I just have this burden for people in America to get the joy and get the peace back in their lives, and I know that comes through an encounter with Jesus,” Morris said. “The church has lost the message of the simplicity of Jesus only, they’ve added all kinds of other stuff in, and that’s why we decided [to bring the festival to the country].”

Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Morris had moved to Canada with his wife who he met in Tanzania. He moved to Winchester, Kentucky in February, and is now a pastor at Catalyst Church in Winchester.

Morris heard of Danville through a colleague who knows several pastors in town. Morris met with several of them and talked about the festival, and he said those pastors were enthusiastic about bringing the festival to Danville.

A committee of local pastors are helping with the event, including Brian Montgomery from the Danville Church of God; Jason Kilby from Center Point Church; Brent Rowe from Calvary Baptist Church; Jay Adkins from Faith Church; Tom Lane from Cornerstone Assemblies of God; and representatives from the Hope Network.

The Danville concert is fully paid for through the non-profit ministry Make Jesus Famous, which Morris founded. The local churches are helping with things like production, the festival grounds, the program outline, spreading the word, etc.

“Since [beginning the process], we’ve reached out to all the churches in town, because it’s not a denomination thing at all; it’s a Christian event, it’s a festival about Jesus,” Morris said. “We’ve seen people from all faiths and backgrounds all over the world have incredible encounters with God through these festivals.”

The festival has more events planned for different parts of Kentucky. They will be in Stanton, Kentucky in December, and Elizabethtown in February 2024.

Morris hopes next year to do one festival per month, and has been contacted to do festivals in North Carolina, Tennessee and other areas. He will also continue some festivals overseas, with one planned for Tanzania in June 2024.