Beachfest Opens With Prayer and Praise

Apr 01, 2003 02:12 PM EST

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.— This year’s Beachfest, a Luis Palau Spring Break event, bubbled with words of evangelism and patriotism. Over 140,000 people gathered on the beachside to celebrate Christ, and the United States, March 22.

"USA, USA, USA," yelled Palau as he opened the two-day event.

"USA, USA, USA," echoed the audience in a patriotic chant.

"We pray for our country, for our troops, for our president and for the innocents in Iraq," Palau said. "We pray that they will not get hurt because of the dictator over there."

Palau told the gatherers that people would be listening to the event from around the world through the Armed Forces Radio Network; including people in Iraq and Kuwait.

"Oh, God our Father, we thank you with all our hearts for the flag behind us which reminds us of the freedom we enjoy in this land," Palau prayed.

Looking at the gigantic American flag flutter behind him, Palau thanked God for founding the nation on “biblical principles.”

"From Florida, in this coastal town of the USA, we ask you, dear God, that you would guide the president of the United States, that you would guide the prime minister of Great Britain, the prime minister of Australia and the Spanish and all the other leaders -- that they will make wise decisions, that you will protect them from mistakes.

"God, we pray for the troops there in the Middle East. We know many of them are teenagers, just like the kids here at the beach today. ... And they are nervous and they are ready to fight. Oh, God our Father, protect our troops and bless them with a blessing from on high, and ,Lord, we pray that this war would be over quickly, that peace would come and justice would prevail, that your name would be honored and that Jesus will become the Lord of the Nation."

After praying for the U.S. citizens in service, Palau asked God for the protection of the Iraqi people.

"They are innocent people, just like the thousands in America who have no interest in dictators. They want to build up their family, protect their little boys and girls and enjoy life. May freedom come tonight and may your name be lifted up," Palau prayed.

Before the festival, Palau said in an interview with the local newspaper, that while war can bring a greater urgency to share the gospel, over 180,000 people die daily from other causes.

"I think it is a good time to soberly preach the Good News and openly appeal to people with the reality of death and eternity," Palau said. "It's a good thing to remind people that life is wonderful with Christ in the midst of all the trouble."

On the other hand, the reality is that most people die of old age or disease, Palau said.

"I don't play on emotion. I don't play on fears. There's no need for that," he said. "One of these days you are gone. Where are you going? I think [the question] is worth asking."

By Pauline J.