Andrew Palau preached the Gospel to more than 80,000 people in Kampala, despite security concerns. Photo: Luis Palau Association
More than 80,000 people turned out to hear Andrew Palau preach in Kampala over the weekend in spite of heavy security and fears of another terrorist attack.
The two-day Love Kampala Festival went ahead at the city’s Kololo Airstrip even after the local authorities ramped up security in the wake of another terrorist threat.
Just one week before the festival, a Somalian man was arrested on suspicion of terrorism onboard a Uganda-bound flight that was also carrying seven members of Palau’s team. The latest threat comes after a fatal attack on Kampala in July, when the al-Qaeda-linked Somalian terrorist group al-Shabab set off two bombs in the capital, killing 76 people.
The city authorities responded to the latest scare by issuing new guidelines for public events, forcing all festivalgoers to pass through metal detectors before being granted entry to the grounds.
Despite the extra measures, the mood at the festival was upbeat as Palau, the 44-year-old son of legendary evangelist Luis Palau, told of how he had once been dependent on alcohol, drugs and promiscuity before being saved by Jesus.
“God loves Uganda and God loves you,” he said. “God wants you to know that you can experience true freedom through his Son Jesus Christ.”
During his visit, Palau also addressed members of the Ugandan parliament and spent time visiting local schools, prisons and slums.
One slum he visited, home to more than 8,000 people, received its first ever toilet facility from the festival team.
Former Ugandan Army Commander and presidential adviser General Elly Tumwine contributed to the festival by writing its opening song, “God Loves Kampala”.
He praised the festival’s positive message and said it demonstrated that Ugandans were excited about the future and were not going to allow fear to win.
He said: “Wherever there is light, darkness runs away. Wherever there is love, fear goes away. Wherever there is hope, hopelessness goes away.”
There were also performances by popular Christian worship artists Nicole C Mullen and Dave Lubben, Jamaican reggae and gospel singer Papa San, Ugandan artists Wilson Bugembe and Beth Mugisha, and the African Children’s Choir.
A ‘Season of Service’ preceded the event, with local churches engaging in social action, including running medical clinics, food distributions, clean water projects and neighbourhood renovation.
The festival, which was broadcast live across 30 African nations, was praised by the Archbishop of Uganda, the Most Rev Henry Orombi, who said it had helped to strengthen unity among the more than 1,000 churches that had taken part.
Dr Tim Robnett, Vice President of Luis Palau Alliance Ministries, said the festival was a great success.
“The festival accomplished the goal of fostering a new level of trust and collaboration among churches which will lead to future locally-run evangelistic campaigns and church growth," he said.
“From the beginning our purpose was to create a sustainable network of church, business and government leaders willing to work together so as to meet the spiritual and physical needs of the region."