Fifty-two years after renowned evangelist Luis Palau’s first major campaign in Colombia’s capital city of Bogotá, the Palau Association returned to deliver the same message of hope to a new generation of Colombians. During the momentous event, Luis Palau’s son shares the gospel in the same location his father launched his ministry.
Standing in front of a sea of people in Bogotá’s iconic Parque el Tunal on the final night of the massive, city-wide campaign, evangelist Andrew Palau shared about the abundant life found only in Jesus and invited the crowd into a personal relationship with the Living God. The August 19th night event was a fitting capstone to the historic campaign that united 852 churches and reached more than 200,000 people in person through multiple events in the city.
In the week leading up to the massive Sunday night festival, Palau and local leaders coordinated multiple outreaches, including gatherings for women, business and civic leaders, prisoners, and two additional festivals on Friday and Saturday nights, August 17 and 18, at Plaza de Bolívar, the same location as the original Luis Palau event in 1966.
“It was such a privilege to be standing in the same square where my father started so many years ago,” said Andrew Palau. “To be sharing the same Good News Gospel, in the same city, among the same wonderful people – it’s a dream come true. I was born in Colombia, when my parents were missionaries here. I have a deep passion for the people of Colombia. I love this nation. And I pray all of Colombia would come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.”
A special gathering for tens of thousands of children and their families on Sunday afternoon at the Parque el Tunal also included the famed Latin television star María Antonieta de las Nieves, known for her role as La Chilindrina on the long-running television show “El Chavo del Ocho.”
“I always thought that someday I had to do something more than make people laugh,” said Antonieta de las Nieves in a press conference in Bogotá. “I want to have fun, but with a good message. That’s why I’m excited to join with the Palau Team for this festival.”
All festival events included performances by top Christian musicians, testimonies from actors and international business leaders, and a clear message of hope and faith in Jesus Christ from Andrew Palau. The festival also included a preview of the upcoming Palau movie, set to be released in North and South America in early 2019, as well as a new Spanish Audio Drama Bible project that is being led by the Palau Association and Grace & Mercy Foundation from New York City.
In addition to the 200,000 people reached in person through these multiple outreach events in Bogotá, more than 550,000 people from around the world watched the festival online through Facebook Live. By the end of the week, more than 18,500 people had made public confessions of faith in Jesus, 100,000 New Testaments had been distributed, and working in partnership with Bibles for the World, an additional 50,000 copies of the Gospel of John were handed out during the three nights of the festival.
“This festival was a team effort. No one church or organization could accomplish something of this scale on their own,” said Kevin Palau, son of Luis Palau and president of the Palau Association based in Portland, Oregon. “It was a beautiful picture of the entire Body of Christ working together to bless a region.”
The goal of the campaign, just like all Palau festivals, was to shake the nation with the Gospel and help launch the Church into a powerful new season of evangelism and outreach. As part of this vision, the Palau Team gathered hundreds of younger evangelists from several nations throughout Latin America for an in-depth time of training, encouraging, equipping, and inspiring. This is part of the Palau Association’s multi-year campaign to build a network of more than 10,000 younger and up-and-coming evangelists around the globe.
In addition to clear evangelism, the festival also helped foster unity within the church body, bringing many churches together that had been divided over secondary issues for many years. This growing unity was made evident through the two pastor gatherings held in the lead-up to the festival which included more than 12,500 leaders from throughout Bogotá and the surrounding area.
Luis Palau, who was diagnosed with Stage IV Lung Cancer in January, was hoping to join his son for this historic campaign, but unfortunately shared in a video days before the event that he, his team, and his doctors all agreed it was an extra danger to his health to attend. Instead, Luis’ wife Patricia travelled with the team to Colombia and greeted the crowd each night, sharing about their love for Colombia and the exciting growth that had taken place in the nation since the campaign in 1966.
The crusade in 1966 not only marked a powerful shift in the trajectory of Colombia, whose evangelical community experienced exponential growth following the campaign, but also set a model for citywide impact that the Palau Association has used to reach millions of people throughout the world for more than fifty-two years.
As Christians, it is our joy and responsibility to support these noble evangelists in their quest to reach the world with the gospel. Let us shower them with our prayer! Pray that the impact of this event will go far beyond the one-time event. Pray that the success of the event will encourage an army of young evangelists to rise up. Pray for the Holy Spirit to actively draw the world to a saving knowledge of Christ!
To learn more about the historical campaign and the significant impact it had on the ministry of the Palau Association, click here.