Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Crusade's Kidz Gig Fun-Filled Children Enjoy Gospel Musical

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Crusade's Kidz Gig Fun-Filled Children Enjoy Gospel Musical

Article excerpt

Pretend you did something really bad.

You know you deserve punishment.

But your friend jumps in front of you and says he wants to take the punishment for you because he loves you.

Psalty the Singing Songbook, a 6-foot furry character, used this analogy to teach thousands of children about Jesus Christ yesterday at Alltel Stadium.

The event was called Kidz Gig, complete with a 5,000-voice children's choir, more than 30 clowns, sing-alongs, dancing and oversized beach balls.

More than 21,000 attended this evangelical musical, designed for preschoolers and elementary school children. Kidz Gig became part of Billy Graham's crusades in 1992.

"The Kidz Gig is fun," said 7-year-old Danae Leake, who was excited to see Psalty in person. She has Psalty videos at home.

It was giggles galore when 100 oversized beach balls were tossed from the top of the stadium.

"Try to hit an usher," Psalty told the laughing children.

Named after a Psalter -- a collection of Psalms set to music -- Psalty has been presenting the Gospel in child-friendly terms for more than 30 years across the country and around the world, long before aligning with the Graham crusades.

Yesterday, when Psalty asked those who want to make Jesus their friend forever, about 1,400 children came forward. One mother in tears knelt with her young daughter, who prayed with a counselor and received a Psalty tape and children's Bible study.

A talking blue furry songbook is definitely something that children rarely forget, said Debby Rettino, wife of Ernie Rettino, the original Psalty.

The Rettinos, who live in California, said they have heard from thousands around the world, including adults, who said they never understood the Gospel until hearing Psalty explain it.

Still, some challenge Psalty, claiming that young children aren't ready for theological concepts.

Psalty's reply is that Jesus said not to look down on little ones.

"Jesus lowers himself to the level of the listener. …

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