Imagine this: American troops are spending their first weekend on Iraqi soil, it's spring break for collegians on South Florida's beaches, and among the nearly 150,000 people crowded on the sand at Fort Lauderdale, protests are out, and patriotic chants and prayers for the troops are in.
That was the case at evangelist Luis Palau's two-day "Beachfest" outreach, sponsored in part by 1,100 area churches, the Miami Dolphins, and local business leaders. The activities included concerts by pop musicians, sports exhibits and demonstrations, and talks by motivational speakers.
Rallies featuring music and Rev. Palau's preaching were telecast to 340 "beach party" venues across the country and Canada, and aired on some 1,400 radio stations and the Armed Forces Network. It was Rev. Palau's largest outreach since a festival in Buenos Aires last year that attracted nearly 1 million people.
At one rally on the beach, the crowd chanted, "U.S.A., U.S.A." In his prayer, Rev. Palau thanked God for the "biblical principles" upon which America was founded. He prayed for a quick and just peace, for wisdom for President Bush and other leaders, for protection of the country's troops, and for freedom for "the innocents" of Iraq.
Organizers said they referred thousands of inquirers to churches.