Thousands Saved at Historic Vietnam Rally

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Public rallies in Vietnam could signal a new openness for the church in a country long criticized for persecuting believers.

Evangelist Luis Palau spoke to an estimated 16,000 people in Ho Chi Minh City April 9-10, with as many as 5,000 making a commitment to Christ.

Palau credited Vietnamese pastors for organizing the historic event.

"It's very touching to see their humility. Humility with strength not weakness. And confidence in the Lord," he said.

"And they speak with those who they have to talk to in leadership with humble authority," he said. "This is very impressive."

"They don't give up. They are persistent. They are consistent," Palau continued. "And they insist on doing what the Lord has told them to do. And they're willing to pay any price if that happens."

The festival to mark the nation's 100-year celebration of the Protestant church in Vietnam almost didn't take place.

Palau's team was granted permission to hold the festival in Ho Chi Minh's Thanh Long Stadium a mere three hours before it was scheduled to start.

"The tensions went on quite a bit," the Argentina-born evangelist said in a video message Tuesday.

The rally was the first time since 1975 that a global Christian leader was allowed to share the Gospel to such a massive Vietnamese audience.

"I am humbled to take part in this historic effort in Vietnam," Palau said in a statement Monday. "The Christian community here is so passionate, so patriotic, so optimistic, and so excited for the future of the nation. It is thrilling to see."

"We love Vietnam and we are overjoyed," he said. "We look forward to many years of service to the nation, as God allows."

Church leaders in Vietnam's capital city of Hanoi are still trying to obtain permission for Palau to hold similar rallies on April 15-16.

Palau said he's hoping to see "a similar if not greater harvest" as last weekend's event.

--Originally aired April 15, 2011.

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