(Photo: Facebook/Luis Palau)
Some 45,000 people attended a youth festival hosted by evangelist Luis Palau in Venezuela last weekend, with thousands committing to sexual purity until marriage during the event.
Festival goers descended upon the bicentennial fairgrounds of Barquisimeto, Venezuela, for Juventud Libre 2013, where Palau preached about faith and change under the theme, "Venezuela, open your heart to hope." The event focused on offering an optimistic outlook for the nation's future in light of its current political and social unrest, which caused 4,000 youths to dedicate their lives to God while the crowd chanted "yes to sexual purity."
"If each and everyone one of you gives your life to Christ, not only will you all revolutionize Venezuela, but Colombia and the entire world," said Palau, in a full-length YouTube video of the event. "Tonight, the Lord tells you, you have more than hope, you have the security that the power of God will be upon your life."
"Sexual temptations come to all of us from youth to old age. It's all in what you do with it," Palau said.
His message also reflected festival organizer Gabriel Blanco's vision to generate a transformation within Venezuela's youth to live a life based on biblical principles and to discover God amid their nation's unclear situation, reports Palau's ministry website.
"Search the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you," said Palau, referring to Venezuela's economic crisis.
In addition to Palau's message of hope, Hispanic Christian artists who performed at the event included Grammy nominated duo Tercer Cielo and Grammy award-winner Monica Rodriguez, as well as other local musical talents. Throughout the day, booths offered health care services, such as dental and pediatric care, and vaccinations were given on the fairgrounds. Furthermore, various stations also provided the opportunity for festival attendees to obtain government-issued identification cards.
Currently, evangelical Christians represent 15 percent of Venezuela's 29 million population. In recent years, those residents have suffered from political and social injustices, causing young adults to revolt against their government.
"My beloved Venezuelans, I know you all are enduring a difficult moment," said Palau. "But I don't want you to despair because Jesus Christ is not dead, he is alive and he is here in Venezuela…do not despair," he urged.
Following the conversion of thousands of youths at the event, Palau's team gathered with local churches to assure the youths have resources to begin their new faith life.
The festival, which marked the finale of a three-week, international Palau campaign that began in Naples, Italy, was televised live on 700 Venezuelan cable stations and in various non-Spanish speaking countries, including Australia and Japan.