A yearlong effort of more than 800 churches drew a crowd of more than 401,000 people to the Costa Rica Festival with Luis Palau this past week.
For seven days, the Palau ministry spread the good news to the country's top leadership, including President Abel Pacheco Rodriguez and incoming President Oscar Arias Sanchez, church heads, believers and nonbelievers, and even historic crowds that had heard Palau more than 30 years ago. The weeklong outreach culminated with a weekend festival at the city's famed Parque de la Paz in San Jose where more than 17,400 individuals committed themselves to Jesus Christ.
"There were so many decisions for Jesus Christ," said Pastor Raul Vargas, according to the Luis Palau Association.
"Never have I seen a festival like this, and never have I imagined something this great," said one of the festival volunteers. "The team worked with such excellence. I've been involved in smaller events, but nothing of this type - nothing of this magnitude. Costa Ricans want to reach out to their friends and family. They want to reach out to their neighbors. They want to evangelize their country, and this festival helped to do it in a powerful way!"
Volunteers alone numbered over 18,000 as preparation and prayers led to an evangelistic event that surpassed organizers' expectations.
"Excellent!" commented Pastor Raul Vargas. "More than we ever could have imagined. This week has been wonderful. Glory be to God!"
Palau and his "great music and good news" were gladly welcomed into the city with San Jose's mayor Johnny Araya Monje presenting the evangelist and author with the city's "Distinguished Visitor" award.
The good news was heard beyond Costa Rica's borders to other Spanish-speaking countries where tens of thousands of people listened in on the festival's live broadcast.
Music artists included some of Latin America's top entertainers, including Jose Luis "El Puma" Rodriguez, singer Jailene Cintron and Mexican superstar Yuri who had formerly taken the Palau stage at the October DC Festival in Washington, D.C.
"The Lord truly blessed our time here, and we pray He will continue to bless Costa Rica for years to come," said Vargas.
Palau held his first major event in Costa Rica in the early 1970s. Attendants from that event returned, but this time as participants in the production of the festival.
Palau's next evangelistic festival is slated for Apr. 1-2 in Orlando, Florida.