Marking the launch of a three-week evangelistic campaign aimed at the entire Latin world, FestiNapoli with Luis Palau drew thousands of individuals from throughout the coastal city of Naples, Italy, this past Friday and Saturday for a free evangelistic festival.
Packing the main plaza along the famed Via Francesco Caracciolo, the historic nature of the two-day festival could be felt by all. According to locals, it marked the first time in recent history that the evangelical community has been granted permission from city officials to host a public, outdoor evangelistic event.
"We are so encouraged by this festival," said festival chairman and local pastor Marcelo Simon Rodriguez. "This represents a great step forward for the evangelical Church in Italy."
Joining with more than 20 local congregations, as well as a handful of performers, soccer stars, and recording artists from the region, world evangelist Luis Palau shared the Good News both nights of the festival, reaching thousands of individuals in person with the life-changing message of Jesus Christ.
Given the small size of the active evangelical population in Naples (estimated at less than 2,000 people), this campaign was a huge feat. The unity among the local participating churches was very strong and their desire to bring the Good News to the city was evident through their hard work and determination. Already the local believers have begun following up hundreds of individuals who made public commitments to Jesus Christ as a result of the campaign.
Earlier in the week, Palau had the opportunity to meet with the mayor of Naples, Luigi de Magistris, sharing his heart for the Good News and God's passion for the lost. In a great step of openness and good will, the mayor sent two officials to greet the crowd on his behalf during both nights of the festival. "I agree fully with the ethics and morals that are being shared in this festival," stated one of the officials, "because they are straight from the Bible."
Palau also had the opportunity to conduct interviews with several key media outlets, as well as visit with local pastors in the nearby town of Pozzuoli, the same location where the Apostle Paul first landed on his way to Rome (Acts 28:11-14).
"What a joy it is to be in Naples, Italy, joining with the local evangelical Church to share the Good News of Jesus Christ," said Palau. "It is my great prayer that this festival marks an exciting new day for the Gospel in Europe, that the evangelical Church would find great openness and opportunity to share the clear message of Jesus Christ with those who are lost."
In addition to the two-day festival, local believers worked with city officials to accomplish a strategic community service effort, including city clean-up projects and free medical clinics.
"This is our opportunity to show our community how much we care," said Rodriguez, "and to demonstrate that we are here to serve the city."
The festival also represented the launch of a three-week evangelistic television campaign to the entire Latin world. Ministry partner Enlace Television broadcast the festival live to more than 40 nations in both Spanish and Italian. Evangelistic television broadcasts of past Palau Festivals will then run for three weeks, concluding with a live feed of the Palau festival in Barquisimeto, Venezuela, on July 6.