Tanzania (MNN) — In the heart of Africa's "Harbor of Peace," world evangelist Andrew Palau and 700 Tanzanian churches fostered unity, love, and humanitarian outreach through the Love Tanzania Festival.
The evangelistic event August 11-12 at Jangwani Grounds attracted more than 125,000 attendees and led several thousand individuals in public commitments to Jesus Christ. Palau's biblical messages of hope formed a potent capstone of two days filled with live music performances, freestyle motocross stunts, and games for kids.
With transparency and a passion for the hopeless stemming from his own turbulent beginnings, Palau invited the crowd to "experience the fullness of Christ." He went on to say, "I'm begging you to receive God's grace. Jesus is here. The battle is won."
Tanzanian artists The Voice, Christina Shusho, comedian Masanja, and a national worship team led by Pastor Safari Paul shared the stage with internationally-known recording artists Nicole C. Mullen and Don Moen. World-class BMX and FMX athletes performed high-flying demonstrations rarely seen in Africa, and children of all ages enjoyed a special stage show featuring UK performer Duggie Dug Dug.
"It was fantastically wonderful," a local resident who attended the festival said. "I've been waiting 10 years for this."
Festival staff received approximately 6,300 response cards from the two-day festival, each representing an individual who made a decision to follow Jesus Christ. Over the next few weeks, local volunteers will follow up with each person and help them get connected to a church in their area.
Church leaders representing numerous denominations anticipate that Love Tanzania's impact will be seen and felt for many years to come. "Thank you for bringing this great festival and unity to us," Archbishop Valentine Mokiwa of the Anglican Church said to the Palau team. "It is now our responsibility to do all that we can to strengthen the unity and build on it."
Extensive local media coverage fostered awareness and discussion of the event around preserving and spreading peace in the city. "Hopefully the Palau Association will come again…. Strategies to deter crime should include the role of spiritual outreach," read an editorial in Tanzania's Daily News. "Christianity is still relevant in this permissive tech-savvy modern world of ours." Coverage of the festival campaign appeared in several local and national newspapers, as well as TV and radio programs.
"Dar es Salaam in Swahili means 'the Harbor of Peace.' Truly, Love Tanzania Festival has brought the peace of Christ in a historic way to the churches and to the city of Dar es Salaam," Palau festival director Tim Innes said. "The churches have never experienced this level of unity. God has done it, and we give Him all the Glory!"
During the week leading up to the festival, an international team of volunteers joined local churches in facilitating several service projects and community outreaches. This "ministry week" had its own palpable victories. More than 17,000 people received encouragement, support, and the Good News through clinics, school assemblies, dinners for women and business leaders, and church services across the city. About 2,000 made a decision to follow Jesus Christ at these preliminary events.
The team's four eye clinics provided reading glasses for 8,706 people. Hundreds got in line as early as 5 a.m. each day to be fitted for a pair of glasses. Each patient tested their vision on a copy of the Gospel of John, and for many, John 3:16 was the first thing they saw with their new-found sight. Soccer and basketball clinics hosted by Play for Hope, a team of professional coaches from Rwanda, served 1,520 kids.
Love Tanzania also enjoyed full support of African Evangelistic Enterprise, an international evangelical and development agency operational in 10 African countries, and many of the staff collaborated to mobilize the churches in Dar es Salaam.
"The unity across the churches in Tanzania throughout this campaign has been historic," Palau said. "The heart of the pastors and leaders to make a difference by loving the city and proclaiming this life-changing message will impact Tanzania for generations. I am humbled and honored to be a part of it."
Representatives from churches in Ethiopia, Malawi, Nairobi, Pretoria and Burkina Faso traveled from their respective nations to experience the Palau model for evangelism first-hand and discuss opportunities to work with the Palau Association on similar campaigns over the next few years.
Andrew Palau has shared the Gospel with millions of people around the world. This festival marks his fifth campaign in Africa. Last summer's Love Burundi Festival in Bujumbura drew more than 60,000 attendees. Palau has also hosted events in Kampala, Uganda (87,000 attendees); Kigali, Rwanda (73,000 attendees); and Cairo, Egypt (13,000 attendees). The Secret Life of a Fool, a memoir of his journey from delinquent youth to international evangelist, is available now.
For more information about Andrew Palau and his ministry, visit www.palau.org.