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Five years ago, American evangelist Andrew Palau stood on a hotel balcony overlooking Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He was there with his wife, Wendy, awaiting the final adoption papers for their daughter, Sadie. Looking over the city, they resolved to someday return to partner with local believers and use his gifts as an evangelist to share the love of Jesus Christ throughout the nation.
Over the next three years, Palau launched a continent-wide campaign to reach 10 capital cities of Africa in 10 years with the Good News of Jesus Christ. In 2011, an Ethiopian delegation of senior leaders traveled to Burundi to meet with Palau as he finished a citywide outreach in the capital city of Bujumbura.
Palau had extended an invitation to leaders from around the region to meet, pray together and discuss the possibility of evangelistic festivals in their own cities. As a result of the gathering, seeing the fruitful impact of the effort in Burundi and hearing about similar campaigns in Rwanda, Uganda and Cairo, Egypt, the group of leaders representing several denominations from across Ethiopia caught the vision and invited Palau and the team to help them host their own evangelistic effort, a campaign now known as Love Ethiopia (running Oct. 28 to Nov. 17, 2013).
The outreach has already engaged thousands of believers throughout Addis Ababa and the surrounding areas as they join together to share the love and hope of Jesus Christ across their communities. In addition, Next Generation Alliance partner evangelists Alan Greene, Richard Hamlet, Reid Saunders, Keith Cook and Blair Carlson have joined in the effort, taking the outreach to six other cities of Ethiopia.
The three-week national campaign will span the Ethiopian cities of Addis Ababa, Bahir Dar, Dire Dawa, Gondar, Jimma, Mek’ele, and Nazaret (Adama). While partner evangelists lead festivals in smaller cities, the effort in Addis Ababa will serve as the capstone. The goal is to reach every level of society across the nation with the life-changing message of Jesus Christ and promote greater unity and collaboration among churches in order to multiply the long-term impact of the campaign.
The effort will include free evangelistic festivals in each city, each one featuring demonstrations from professional BMX athletes, activities for children, live musical performances and clear gospel presentations. The festival in Addis Ababa will include musical guests Dave Lubben, Don Moen and the Salem Baptist Choir from Chicago. Churches across the nation are working together to ensure each festival is open to the public, regardless of faith background.
Palau campaigns include a humanitarian effort, with volunteers coming from around the world to aid in service. In Addis Ababa, more than 120 volunteers from the United States and Europe will work alongside ophthalmologists to fit people for free reading glasses, will conduct free soccer clinics for children and will visit prisons throughout the week leading up to the festival.
Love Ethiopia has established a core team of local representatives and volunteers led by the Evangelical Churches Fellowship of Ethiopia, Mekane Yesus and Kale Heywot. This campaign has also brought strategic partnerships from the corporate community, including Ethiopian Airlines, Technolstyle, YES Water, Saro Maria Hotel, Salem Children's Village and Daystar Technologies.
Palau draws a track record of success in mobilizing the church and proclaiming the gospel in Africa, with Ethiopia being the sixth festival held on the continent in the past six years. Other campaigns include the countries of Egypt, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi. In total, Palau has shared the gospel with more than 357,000 people in Africa through these live events, with more than 30,200 public decisions for Jesus Christ.