In 1966 in Bogota, Columbia, Luis Palau led his first outdoor crusade. This year, 52 years later, Palau’s son, Andrew, led the ministry back to Bogata to facilitate another crusade. Seven days and 18,000 confessions of faith later, it is apparent the nation of Colombia was eager to respond to the gospel message.
This Luis Palau Festival Was Significant for Many Reasons
While Luis Palau was hoping to join Andrew in Bogota, after being diagnosed with cancer earlier this year, he chose to be cautious and did not attend. “Bogotá is going through a cold state right now. It’s 9,000 feet high, and not good for someone whose immune system is weak,” Palau explained to his followers in a Facebook video. And although he expressed his grief in not being able to celebrate the harvest there in person and reminisce with friends about the past crusade, he said, “The Lord is there—that’s what really counts.”
The event was also significant for Andrew, who was actually born in Colombia in 1966 during the first campaign. In preparing for the event, Andrew shared the excitement of the local church was evident and “expectations are sky high.”
One event in the week-long crusade was held in the historic Plaza de Bolívar, which is one of the most significant cultural and political locations in the nation. The square is bordered by the Palace of Justice, the National Capitol, the Primary Cathedral of Bogota and the mayor’s office. Historically, the square has been host to protests, markets, public discourse, and even bullfights. In 1966, Colombia was going through intense political upheaval. As the Luis Palau Association (LPA) returned to the very same spot 52 years later, the country is a little more stable, but the stability did not quell the response to a message of hope and peace found in Jesus Christ.
This year’s campaign included four big festivals with an evangelistic focus, outreaches in prisons, universities, and neighborhoods, and evangelism training for thousands of believers. The campaign was well-advertised via television and radio ads that ran in July and August. According to LPA’s website, street teams started outreach efforts in June, leading up to the week-long campaign in August.
At an outreach event to prisoners, at least 70 prisoners made confessions of faith. On LPA’s Facebook page, they also reported that after the program, Andrew baptized five of the inmates in the yard, in front of everyone.
There was a strong emphasis on partnering with the local church for the campaign. According to NRB.org, more than 850 churches worked together to organize and facilitate the evangelism training sessions, public events, and outreach efforts to business and civic leaders, women, and prisoners. According to LPA’s estimates, more than 200,000 people in Colombia were reached. Perhaps the effort that will bear the most fruit in the nation, though, is the 11,000 local believers who were trained in evangelism.
In addition to the people who were reached in person, the festivals were also broadcast throughout Latin America by Enlace, a television network. International radio partners also broadcast the events. LPA says a Facebook live feed of the festivals reached more than 550,000 people all around the world.
Andrew’s mother, Patricia (Pat), traveled with him to Bogota to greet the crowd on behalf of her husband, Luis. In an update on LPA’s website, Kevin Palau wrote that while in Colombia Pat became ill. She was admitted to the hospital after returning to the United States and was diagnosed with pneumonia. As of August 30, Kevin reported she is back home and on the mend, but still has a “long haul” to recovery and asked for prayers.
In a video shared at the final festival in Bogota, Andrew described the campaign as a “great expression of unity, and the results [are what] God promises: richness, refreshment, and eternal life.”