India Sees Swell of Souls
People of All Ages Respond to Gospel on Youth Night at Festival
November 12, 2011 - On Saturday night in Hyderabad, scores of people—young and old—responded to Franklin Graham’s impassioned message from Luke 15:11-32. Close to 59,000 people flooded Lal Bahadur Stadium for music and a Word for their souls. An additional 11,230 viewed by satellite in Guntur.
by Janet Chismar
Telling the story of the Prodigal Son on a balmy, moonlit night in India, Franklin Graham explained, “This is a picture of you and God. If you have been running from God, He is waiting for you. He loves you and wants to give you purpose and meaning. He has a plan for your life.”
The young people in the audience especially seemed to relate. Dubbed Youth Night, this evening’s service featured musicians like Yeshua Band—whose young members want to prove that putting God first is not “uncool”—and Divine Connection, winner of MTV’s Best Rock Band in India award in 2010.
Raja, a well-known Telugu film actor, shared his love for Jesus Christ with the audience, telling how both of his parents died when he was young: “My two sisters and I faced a parentless life of destitution. The hopelessness was unbearable and I contemplated ending my life, but unexpectedly I found the love of the Lord Jesus Christ. He brought me out of the gutter and He can do the same for you.”
Benny Prasad, an instrumental musician who has travelled to every country in the world, also shared that he wanted to commit suicide at the age of 16. “But suicide is not the answer,” he told the crowd. “You can turn to Jesus.”
Youth in Hyderabad have “a God-shaped vacuum in their hearts,” said local pastor Rev. Christy Rajender. He explained that young people in the area are interested in “friends, food, fashion, fun and family. But they don’t know the true happiness that comes from a relationship with Jesus.”
Tonight’s Gospel message changed all that for more than 1,400 in Hyderabad and more than 750 in Guntur. Along with the youth, adults of all ages came forward as a sign of their decision to accept Jesus into their hearts.
“No matter how much you have sinned or turned your back on God, you can return to your heavenly Father tonight,” said Franklin Graham.
Shara wanted to do so. Her counselor told her story: “Shara grew up in a Christian home but walked away from God when her brother was killed in an accident. She was like the prodigal and ran away from her family. She lived with a boyfriend for three years but when he began to beat her, Shara returned to parents’ house. That was six months ago.”
She didn’t return to God until tonight. “She says she felt her tears come when the preacher said God the papa will hold His arms open for us,” the counselor said of Shara. “I am happy I got to pray with her. She reminds me of when I was her age and so lost. That is why I am here and glad that Franklin Graham came to India.”
Cumulative attendance for the Festival has reached 172,000 with one night remaining. Pray that many more will come on Sunday and receive Christ into their hearts.