The weeklong Luis Palau Festival kicked off its first large-scale ministry exposition Wednesday in Mexico ahead of the much anticipated weekend fest.
Expoministerios, which features about 200 different ministry booths, is a new attraction this week at the Palau festival in Monterrey, Mexico. Organizers say they hope the expo, which is open to the public, will attract some 10,000 people.
"The idea is to bring them (ministries) together with leaders from Latin America to form strategic alliances so there will be a more efficient use of resources," explained Jaime Miron, vice president of Latin American ministries at the Luis Palau Association. Miron said that an evaluation is currently underway to see if expos will be included in future festivals.
In addition to Expoministerios, the Leadership Congress also opened on Wednesday. Over 1,500 leaders from 22 nations have registered for the training sessions, according to a Tuesday staff report. The sessions, workshops and networking will take place over the course of four days and will feature 13 main speakers including Palau.
The Monterrey Festival is a weeklong event taking place from Mar. 18-24. It is the first Palau festival of its kind to be held in Mexico. In the past, Palau has held smaller scale evangelistic "crusades" throughout the country including ones in Mexico City, Monterrey, Acapulco, and Tijuana.
"The Monterrey Festival is significant since it marks the Palau Association's return to Mexico after several years of not ministering in that great country," explained Miron. "It is also the first Festival format in Mexico."
Organizers say they expect an estimated 200,000 people at the festival this week noting the anticipated attendance size is normal for a city of Monterrey's population. Some of Palau's other festivals in Spanish-speaking countries have drawn larger crowds because of the large population in those areas including 350,000 attendees in Lima, Peru, with a population of 7 million and 500,000 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, a city of 14 million.
As is common with most of the Palau festival, the evangelist – considered by some the Latino Billy Graham – began his week by meeting with the city's top government officials and holding interviews with several television stations where he shared the Gospel message.
Other events that will take place throughout the rest of the week include a prison outreach where more than 4,000 packets of supplies and ministry materials will be distributed among three prisons; a children's outreach where over 10,000 children from the poorest areas of town will be brought in and be provided meals, and free medical and dental services during the two fest days.