Bolivians Moved to Tears in Festival Opener

By   •   March 8, 2013

Two 20-something friends, Alvuro and Franklin, had heard about this Festival de Esperanza coming to town.

They had received plenty of invites from other friends. They knew it was this weekend at the soccer stadium in La Paz. Three nights. A lot of bands.  A lot of fun. Franklin Graham preaching.

But neither really wanted to go.

“They couldn’t decide whether to come or not,” said Festival counselor Juan Carlos Duarte. “But something moved them to come.”

Maybe not so coincidentally, a team of prayer warriors have been lifting up the Festival de Esperanza (Festival of Hope) all week. Even on Friday morning, many were praying specifically for those who were on the fence, that the Holy Spirit would pierce their hearts.

Alvuro, 25, and Franklin, 26, were pierced not once Friday, but twice.

“They couldn’t explain it,” Duarte said. “But there was something in their hearts that moved them to come tonight and again to come forward.”

What they heard when they came to Rafael Mendoza Castellón Stadium on Friday was entertaining and uplifting music, most notably the popular Christian/Latin pop crossover duo Tercer Cielo, whose love ballads have been played at many Bolivian weddings.

They also heard a crystal clear Gospel message from Franklin Graham, who preached out of Mark 10:46-52, about the blind man Bartimaeus who called out to Jesus as he passed and was healed because he cried out Jesus’ name in faith.

Alvuro and Franklin had a similar experience as they made their way to the front — along with a throng of more than 1,000 other Bolivians — as Franklin Graham gave a clear invitation to receive Christ.

Duarte could see in their eyes, they were ready for a life-changing relationship.

“They both were crying,” Duarte said. “They were both happy they came and they gave their life to Christ.”

Duarte, 42, who lives in La Paz, had no doubt he was witnessing two souls on fire for Christ, even as temperatures had dropped into the mid-40s.

“They said their lives were messy and were destroyed,” Duarte said. “Seeing the tears made me think there was real repentance.”

Duarte, himself, was moved by the crowd’s response to Franklin’s message: “Tonight, are you willing to cry for mercy? Jesus stopped for Bartimaeus and He’ll stop for you.”

Bolivians started moving down the aisles about halfway through Franklin Graham’s message and many had already made it to the infield by the time the invitation was given. Two women, dressed in traditional Bolivian clothing and hats, began running toward the front.

“Very special,” Duarte said of his Festival counseling experience. “It was memorable to walk down the stairs with them. I felt like I was going on the journey with them to meet God. Very special.”

The Festival de Esperanza is the 14th Franklin Graham Festival in South America and the second one in Bolivia (Santa Cruz, 1999). With more than 800 churches involved, expectations for God to do great things continue throughout the weekend, with festivities beginning at 4 p.m. local time both Saturday and Sunday.

More Festival Information:

Festival Brings Hope to Mountain City

Expectations Elevated in La Paz Altitude

More than 800 Churches Join La Paz Festival

Festival of Hope Reaches Into Thin Air

Follow the Festival of Hope on BGEA’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

In Spanish, follow the Festival de Esperanza Bolivia Facebook page. 

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  1. Brenda says:

    What a Mighty God we serve! He is the I Am, the Alpha and Omega. May the lost find their way into His loving arms. God bless this Crusade and keep safe.

  2. Michele says:

    Praise God 🙂

  3. Eddie says:

    Praise the name of God, Jesus Christ! I pray for S. America and it does my heart good to hear of a move of God in these countries. These people are hungry for God and most American believers do little to spread the gospel to them. Keep on keeping on

  4. Jamille says:

    This is so touching; this is what it's all about, bringing the lost to Christ.I'm so moved right now.

  5. Narelle Lamberts says:

    I feel so moved to pray for the people in my area after reading abt the experience of these two youngsters.

  6. Yvonne says:

    praise GOD! I was praying this festival would bring many to Christ. Thank you so much for the work of BGEA reaching out all over the world. It seems likely to me that the days on this earth are short before Jesus callls us home. God bless you all

  7. Don says:

    I have heard about a Spiritual Awakening in all of Latin America. I pray it will happen in America before it is too late!!!!!!!!! We are so blessed materially and so poor spiritually.

  8. David says:

    Praise the Lord!

  9. Julie says:

    Love the way God and the Holy Spirit move, I pray it hasppens where I live real soon!