First public Christian event is held in Angola

By June 15, 2005

Angola (MNN) — Public Christian events have never before been allowed in Angola under the country’s ruling authorities, civil war, communism, and centuries of Portuguese colonization. But this weekend, a wind of change was felt in the African nation as nearly 47,000 people gathered for the historic Festival of Hope with Franklin Graham, the first event of its kind in Angola.

“In a country that was once torn apart, we thank God for peace now that the war has ended,” said Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. “Now that there is peace in the land we have an opportunity to bring this Festival and spiritual peace to these people’s hearts.”

The Festival, held June 10-12 in Lubango’s soccer stadium, was the first time nearly all of the city’s churches united for one purpose – 90 of the 95 churches helped organize the event. Each evening, crowds streamed to the Estadio da Nossa Senhora do Monte, many people walked several miles because of the lack of public transportation in the sprawling city. By the final night, 13,496 responded to the invitation to put their faith in Jesus Christ. Crowds heard Graham’s message of hope, along with music by local and international artists Dennis Agajanian and the Tommy Coomes Band. The 1,400-voice choir was one of the largest in the history of Graham’s Festivals, which have been held in more than 100 cities in 20 countries around the world.

On Saturday morning, nearly 15,000 kids filled the stadium for “Festivalzinho,” a program of fun, drama, and music that teaches children about God’s love and forgiveness. Fifty percent of the children flooded the field as they responded to the Gospel presentation.

Earlier in the week, Graham, the Governor of the region Jose Ramos DaCruz, and the longtime Angolan missionary Dr. Stephen Foster dedicated a state-of-the-art hospital on 28 acres in Lubango that Dr. Foster said will be “the best medical facility in Angola.” Samaritan’s Purse, the international relief organization also headed by Graham, has provided $3 million for construction of the building, medical supplies, staff, and vehicles.

“This hospital is a great start in rebuilding our country,” said Gov. DaCruz. “We are grateful for your generosity and what this will mean for our people. We are also thankful for the Festival, and I will work to protect the freedoms of our people to worship.”

This year, Graham has held Festivals in Hobart and Melbourne, Australia; and Asuncion, Paraguay. Upcoming meetings include Chisinau, Moldova (July 8-10); Corpus Christi, Texas (Aug. 19-21); and Shreveport, La. (Nov. 11-13).

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