Tens of thousands of people in Dar es Salaam heard the Good News of Jesus Christ this weekend during the Love Tanzania Festival with Andrew Palau.
Local festival coordinator Emmanuel Kopwe said that by his estimation, Sunday's crowd was the biggest ever to gather on Jangwani grounds. "I'm overwhelmed by this sight," he said.
During his message of hope on Saturday night, Andrew invited the crowd to "experience the fullness of Christ." He went on to say, "Jesus is here. The battle is won." He and a few guests - including Tanzanian comedian Masanga, Action Sport's Outreach leader Vic Murphy, and children's performer Duggie Dug Dug - presented the Gospel at every opportunity throughout the event.
"It was fantastically wonderful," a local resident who attended the festival said. "I've been waiting ten years for this."
Staff immediately went to work processing several thousand response cards, each representing an individual who made a decision for Jesus Christ at the festival. Over the next few weeks, local volunteers will follow up with each person and help them get connected to a church in their area.
Believers in Tanzania are rejoicing over what God has done through this unified initiative, and church leaders anticipate that Love Tanzania's impact will be seen and felt for years to come. "Thank you for bringing this great festival and unity to us," Archbishop Valentine Mokiwa of the Anglican Church said to the Palau team. "It is now our responsibility to do all that we can to strengthen the unity and build on it."
Extensive local media coverage fostered awareness and discussion of the event around preserving and spreading peace in the city. "Hopefully the Palau Association will come again...Strategies to deter crime should include the role of spiritual outreach," read an editorial in Tanzania's Daily News. "Christianity is still relevant in this permissive tech-savvy modern world of ours."
Ministry week, six days of service and evangelism to Dar es Salaam and the surrounding area, had its own palpable victories. Several thousand people received encouragement, support, and the Good News through eye clinics, sports clinics, school assemblies, dinners for women and business leaders, and church services across the city.
Thousands made a decision to follow Jesus Christ at these preliminary events. The team's four eye clinics provided reading glasses for 8,706 people, and Play for Hope's soccer and basketball clinics served 1,520 kids. Hundreds of people got in line as early as 5 a.m. each day to be fitted for a pair of reading glasses. Many waited patiently for hours as the team worked hard to help everyone they could. Each patient tested their vision on a copy of the Gospel of John, and for many, John 3:16 was the first thing they saw with their newfound sight.
"Dar es Salaam in Swahili means 'the Harbor of Peace.' Truly, Love Tanzania Festival has brought the peace of Christ in a historic way to the churches and to the city of Dar es Salaam," Palau festival director Tim Innes said. "The churches have never experienced this level of unity. God has done it and we give Him all the Glory!"