By BosNewsLife News Center
TIRANA, ALBANIA (BosNewsLife)-- Tens of thousands have heard the Christian "Good News" in Albania's capital Tirana and "many" made "public decisions for Jesus Christ" at an evangelism festival of American evangelist Luis Palau, organizers said.
The announcement came as thousands gathered at Tirana's Mother Teresa Square Sunday, September 23, for the second and final day of 'TiranaFest', the first evangelistic gathering of its kind in this formerly atheistic nation.
Palau called the event "historic" as in 1967 the Albanian leadership closed all religious institutions and declared Albania the world’s first "purely atheistic state."
Many Christians were jailed and several of them killed because of their faith in Jesus Christ under the regime of late Albanian Communist leader Enver Hoxha, according to several advocacy groups.
(Watch here Luis Palau's promotion video for TiranaFest. Story continues after this)
Only in 2010, the government granted legal status to some 135 of the nation’s evangelical churches, the Luis Palau Association said. "However, Albania remains one of the least evangelized places in the world, with less than 1 percent of the population" of 3 million "claiming to be evangelical Christian," the organization added.
Other church observers have suggested that figure is higher, but Palau maintains there's a difference between following church traditions or making a personal decision for Jesus Christ.
He and other evangelical believers like to point to Bible verse John 3:16: 'For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life'.
Yet, "Albania’s small but passionate community of believers is hungry for God to move," Palau said.
Organizers stressed that TiranaFest has been arranged in cooperation with Albania's government and Tirana city officials. Additionally nearly every evangelical church in Albania was reportedly involved in the TiranaFest with Luis Palau.
Besides Palau's sermon, the TiranaFest included performances from international and Albanian artists as well as a variety of extreme sports events and activities for children.