A young Bolivian faith healer, converted last year at a Kathryn Kuhlman service in Los Angeles, has drawn what are believed to be some of the largest crowds ever in Bolivia. Julio Cesar Rubial, 20, a layman who preaches simple Bible messages, filled La Paz soccer stadium (seating capacity 20,000) twice in January with equal sized crowds in a plaza outside. Other open-air meetings at the city of Cochabamba drew between 30,000 and 60,000, according to local press reports.
Bolivian evangelicals, meanwhile, are unanimous in their enthusiasm for what they call a moving of the Spirit of God in Bolivia. Said one mission director: “You wouldn’t believe the things that are happening here. Tremendous!” Local churches are making extra efforts to provide follow-up but were apparently unprepared for the large numbers resulting from the meetings.
Rubial publicly claims to be a Catholic, though his Christ-centered preaching and the absence of references to saints and the Virgin have gained him the enmity of some Catholic leaders. Many of his earliest healing services were held in a La Paz Catholic church but were stopped when the priest ordered him out. The young layman was also reportedly denounced as a non-Catholic in a surprising fifteen-minute radio broadcast by the archbishop of La Paz.
Despite official Catholic opposition, however, the Bolivian government has publicly given Rubial moral and material support. President Hugo Banzer’s wife was reportedly healed and made a confession of faith through Rubial’s ministry in her home. In gratitude, Banzer made the stadium available without charge and offered free government transportation to any part of Bolivia. Wherever Rubial appears, government officials accompany him on the platform.
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