CWN.org - BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA -- Hundreds of miles and decades removed from the world's broadest street, Buenos Aires' famed Ave. 9 de Julio, a young Matilde Palau prayed daily that her son Luis would someday impact the world for Christ. This past week, global evangelist Luis Palau's Si A La Vida festival brought an historic response to a mother's prayer as the Argentine capital saw over 800,000 fill the avenue over two days for one of the largest faith celebrations ever seen in South America.
In an unprecedented cooperative effort among government officials, the media, and thousands of churches, the Palau team coordinated a week of activities that included meetings with Argentine president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner; the nation's vice president, national deputies and senators; and hundreds of civic and church leaders. Palau spoke at gatherings for women and for business and union leaders representing hundreds of thousands of Argentine workers. A conference for pastors focused on training clergy to lead a growing number of congregations across the country.
The media coverage surpassed any experienced by the Palau ministry in over four decades of outreach. By the time the Salem Baptist Church Choir of Chicago took the stage on Friday night, most of the nation's print and broadcast outlets had covered the preparations extensively. A press conference featuring Palau and several festival entertainers drew representatives from both national and local media. Television stations broadcast live from the site with many repeating their stories again and again. The massive crowds - an estimated 300,000 on Friday and 500,000 on Saturday - were captured on the front pages of the nation's major newspapers and magazines.
In the tradition of the Luis Palau festivals seen in over 70 countries, the program was diverse in content and focused on a straightforward Gospel message from Palau and his son Andrew. Musical genres ranged from the tango to hip-hop, rock to gospel, all presented on a massive stage constructed at the foot of Argentina's legendary Obelisk. Online viewers around the world joined in to watch a live "streaming" while hundreds of thousands more watched images captured by news helicopters hovering over the site.
More than 23,000 trained "Friends of the Festival" provided personal counseling to the thousands who responded to Palau's invitation to follow a life of faith in Christ. More than 16,000 "decision cards" were collected at preliminary events and on the weekend, with officials anticipating thousands more as festival follow-up continues. As the Palau ministry celebrates the historic events in Buenos Aires they continue planning for upcoming festivals in Jamaica, Mexico and Palau's home base in Portland, Oregon. Luis Palau's latest book, co-authored with Chinese leader Zhao Qixheng titled "A Friendly Dialogue Between an Atheist and a Christian" was recently released in English and Spanish.