(Inverness, Scotland) Highland Festival with Luis Palau culminated in Inverness, Scotland on June 20 after two weeks of more than 60 outreach events in more than a dozen towns throughout Scotland's Highlands. Local pastors praised the Palau outreach for the unity it created among participating churches and for saturating the Highlands with the Gospel message. Most of the sparsely populated towns impacted by the campaign have not witnessed such a large scale effort since Palau's previous Scottish campaigns that ran from 1979-1981.
"You can definitely sense the secularization and lack of church attendance," said the Argentine evangelist, the grandson of Scotsman Robert Balfour. "I have asked young people 'do you go to church?' and they look at me like I'm from another planet." But just as he noted 30 years ago, Palau said, "Scotland is once again dry tinder, ready to catch fire for the Lord."
The Highland Festival involved more than 100 churches – that's more than half the region's total church population – representing nearly every denomination. Together with Palau, his son Andrew, and a team of partner evangelists, these churches made a profound impact through a combination of preaching, music, skateboarding, sports, and good, old-fashioned fun. An estimated 5 percent of attendees made a commitment to Christ.
"What a great blessing we have seen through Highland Festival with Luis Palau," said Lord Mackay of Clashfern, honorary chairman of the campaign and, until recently, the third most powerful person in the United Kingdom's government as Lord Chancellor. "Never in recent history has there been such a widespread evangelistic effort that touched so many people of all ages in so many locations throughout the Highlands."
Leading up to the final event, an outdoor festival in Inverness on June 19-20, were eight mini-festivals in nearby towns, more than 40 outreaches at schools and prisons, a tea for women held at the personal castle of well-known Christian businesswoman Anne Gloag, a business leaders' luncheon, and two evenings of traditional music and preaching at an indoor theatre. By the end of the culminating festival, officials estimated that numbers in the tens of thousands had been reached with the Gospel message – representing approximately 10 percent of the population of the surrounding area and marking a significant step forward for evangelism in the region.
"The number of people reached is tremendous for Scotland's Highlands," said Palau, also noting that the clear message of God's salvation was also broadcast throughout the entire United Kingdom via BBC4 and through press stories. "I am encouraged! But even more, we are excited for the unity, collaboration, and vision this campaign has given the local churches. Christian leaders want to continue this work."
Palau's worldwide festivals also include widespread community service initiatives, now known as Season of Service campaigns. In Inverness, thousands of pounds of food were collected through a partnership with Blythswood Care. "It is obvious that the recession and resulting unemployment is hitting parts of the Highlands very hard," said Blythswood chief executive James Campbell. "The food bank will tide many hundreds of adults and children over, when otherwise they would face the prospect of real deprivation."
"We are praising God through this entire campaign," said Palau. "We give thanks to our prayer partners who interceded on behalf of the people of the Highlands and gave to make it all possible. We continue praying that this is just the beginning of what God plans to do in this area."