On Saturday, May 12th, 2012, thirty-five churches from around Charleroi, Belgium joined together for an historic one-day event to promote unity and solidarity for this area. In a park in the city center, which carries the stigma of a troubled past, the locals were met with the sights, sounds and smells of a joyous, family-oriented gathering. Throughout the day, around 1500 people passed through the booths with children’s games, haircuts, manicures and medical consultations encircling a center stage with live music. As the smell of hot dogs wafting from the grill enticed people towards the free food, children enjoyed getting their faces painted and receiving prizes at the game stations. The day was concluded with a service and presentation by the fellowship of leaders who collaborated to make this event happen. Thanks to Convoy of Hope Europe for their sponsorship.
Charleroi, a city in Belgium of more than 200,000 inhabitants was notorious in the 1990s for its crime. By some it was nicknamed “Chicago,” referring to the times when Chicago was controlled by the mafia and crime was rampant. Once, it was a landmark in the iron, steel and mining industry, providing work and income to many. But since the 1970’s with the mines and steel plants closing, Charleroi has experienced one of the highest unemployment and poverty rates in Europe.
On May 12, 2012, thirty-five churches from different Protestant denominations will collaborate with Convoy of Hope Europe to organize an historic event. “Never in the history of Charleroi have we seen churches work together in this fashion,” says Daniel Costanza, Coordinator of the Pentecostal European Fellowship. “For many years there have been divisions and strife among the churches, but the Festival of Hope has brought them together.”
During the Festival of Hope, which is sponsored by COHEU, the churches of Charleroi will be offering help and hope to the inhabitants of their city. As well as providing free food, there will be all kinds of free resources including lawyers offering free advice, doctors giving free consultations, free haircuts, manicures and pedicures and many other services all at no cost to the guests.
The Festival of Hope will take place in Park Reine Astrid in the city center of Charleroi on May 12, 2012 from 10am to 6 Pm.