Originally published in God Reports
After the fall of Communism and state-imposed atheism 20 years ago there were only five known believers in Albania. But recently, local churches and evangelist Luis Palau collaborated to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to more than 20,000 people at Tirana’s Mother Teresa Square.
TiranaFest with Luis Palau, a massive evangelistic campaign, took place in Albania’s capital, Tirana, on September 22-23. The square resounded with live music, athletic exhibitions, and a clear presentation of the Good News by Luis Palau and others.
“This was totally different…something that has never happened in Tirana,” Pastor Paulin Vilajeti of Albania Christian Center said. “Because people were attracted by different events. I believe and I hope that God touched different generations – from children to the old people.”
Local church leaders acknowledged the campaign as one of the largest faith gatherings – and the largest movement of churches – Albania has ever seen. TiranaFest offered them a unique opportunity to spread the message of Jesus across the public sphere, timed to coincide with the nation’s 100-year anniversary of independence.
“I think it’s historic,” Toni Gogu, an attorney and chair of TiranaFest’s organizing committee, said. “For the first time, we have had the elites of Albanian society – the business community, the political community – being addressed in such a genuine way with the Good News of salvation.”
The city’s church leaders and congregants alike boldly reached out to their countrymen and helped lead 2,300 people in public decisions for Jesus Christ.
Days before the festival, Luis met and prayed with government and faith leaders, including the archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church and Tirana’s mayor, Lulzim Basha. The latter attended the festival Saturday and offered his welcome and support for TiranaFest from the main stage.
A late addition to the Palau team’s 2012 calendar, TiranaFest defied expectations as publicity swept throughout the city and the nation’s top three TV networks carried the story for several days.
“Since 1985, I have loved Albania, I have read about Albania, and I always dreamt that someone would invite me,” Palau said.
For three months prior to the festival, Tirana’s churches performed a Season of Service to bless the city through medical clinics, dental clinics, and other community projects.
“We started a dialogue. We started asking the mayor and the municipality how we can help,” Gogu said. “TiranaFest did this. TiranaFest brought the Church to the city, and brought the city to the Church. We put two feet to our faith; we proclaimed the Gospel and showed compassion and love for the city.”
The Palau team is currently working with local churches to follow up with each new believer and connect them with a church in their area.
Evangelist Luis Palau has brought a message of hope through faith in Jesus Christ to more than 1 billion people through radio, television, and other media. He is the author of more than 40 books and countless articles on issues of faith. For more information, visit www.palau.org.