(Kigali, Rwanda) Fifteen years after the 1994 genocide that killed an estimated 1 million people in 100 days, the people of Rwanda continue the hard work of healing and restoration, laying the groundwork for a strong future. Through Kigali Festival with Andrew Palau on July 17-18, and the festival's preceding Season of Service, hope and Good News were offered in abundance.
Attended by tens of thousands of people, the evangelist's two-day festival was held on the Amahoro National Stadium grounds in Rwanda's capital city. Another several thousand people attended separate events for women, government, business, and civic leaders, and prisoners at Kigali Central Prison. Several thousand people made public decisions for Jesus Christ.
"It is a joy and privilege to see God's powerful offer of life, freedom, and forgiveness so readily embraced," said Palau. "The incredible response testifies to God's work of reconciliation in beautiful Rwanda."
The Palau festival was a partnership with Africa New Life Ministries, Hope Rwanda, and Water for Life, combining their efforts to gather more than 350 participating churches. The campaign was fully supported by Kigali City's mayor, vice mayor, city council, and all of the city's sector leadership.
Kigali Festival itself included all the classic components of a Palau festival: a Family Fun Zone for kids, action sports demonstrations by professional BMX and skateboard athletes, the Gospel message presented by Palau, and live concerts by Nicole C. Mullins, Building 429, Dave Lubben, and Rwandan musician and genocide survivor, Enric Sifa.
Preceding the festival, the Season of Service brought together churches, government leaders, businesses, and hundreds of volunteers. The initiative launched on April 17 at a local school and genocide survivors' village where a new water catchment system and drill are being installed. Water for Life and the Luis Palau Association will continue for three years adding clean water systems for the city's schools. A total of 22 service projects were completed and another 60 projects are being planned for completion over the next three years.
Play For Hope, a ministry to initiate and strengthen local sports outreaches, hosted an eight-week series of camps that culminated in a soccer tournament at the stadium with winners announced on the first festival night. At Africa New Life's orphanage, as well as at the stadium grounds during the festival, Compassion Connect ran medical clinics where 700 patients received free dental, vision, and medical services.
Twenty-six delegates representing seven different nations attended the festival's Next Generation Alliance® Extend the Impact Conference. Each is considering inviting Palau to host a future festival in their country.
"If the Rwandan situation can be amended by repentance and forgiveness, and the people here can be reconciled enough to live together again, it can happen anywhere in the world," said Bishop John Rucyahana, Kigali Festival chairman.