Malta, a southern European island nation located south of Italy in the Mediterranean Sea, is one of the smallest and most densely populated countries in the world. Evangelical Christianity makes up a very small percentage of Malta’s population, which contributes to the sense of insignificance and worthlessness among the island’s Christians. Home to around 450,000 people, Malta is also a tourist destination that hosts numerous festivals throughout the year. These many festivals gave missionaries Brent and Renea Liebe an idea: If they could find some partners to help pull it off, could they organize and launch a Christian music festival in Malta to reach young, unchurched people and preach the gospel while building confidence among Maltese Christians?
With little more than that idea, Brent cold-called the founders of a large Christian music festival in South Dakota, LifeLight Global, which draws almost as many people as Malta’s entire population to it’s namesake annual event, hoping they would take a chance on a fledgling idea on an island in Europe. LifeLight sounded receptive, but as weeks turned into months without a definite answer, the Liebes began to believe that the challenge was too great. No one had ever done something on this scale in Malta, so perhaps starting something like a music festival was out of reach.
Then they received the call. LifeLight Global not only wanted to move forward with investing in and organizing the festival in Malta as a missions endeavor, but they also wanted to connect the Liebes with the Reid Saunders Association, a ministry that specializes in evangelistic events. The partnership of these two organizations sparked excitement throughout the evangelical community on the island, and they began working to form the Love Malta Festival.
In September 2017 the Maltese were introduced to The Love Malta Festival for the very first time. The festival brought together Christian musical acts, BMX and dirt bike stunts, and evangelistic preaching for an unforgettable weekend of ministry. “The vision of the event,” says Brent, “Was to take the gospel out of the four walls of the church and into the streets where the lost could hear it.” And that is exactly what happened. Of the hundreds of people who came to the festival, many filled out response cards, visited evangelical churches for the first time, and have stayed to grow in their newfound faith.
The Love Malta Festival also attracted the attention of local authorities who contacted Brent following the event. The quality of the first-time festival impressed the Malta Tourism Authority so much, they offered to fund future festivals by replacing their sponsorship of the heavily-attended Isle of MTV event. What started with the moonshot idea, starting a small Christian music festival, is now poised to become a huge, annual beacon of hope in a place where hope is crucial to its future.