Last August, when Nancy Tedesco heard that Billy Graham was returning to New York City in 2005 for a Crusade, she knew she needed to be involved. Born and raised in New York, she had felt a deep burden for her city for two years. Friends would go on mission trips to other countries, and although Tedesco knew that those trips were important, she thought, “What about my city? Why haven’t we had a Crusade in such a long time?”
Then, while attending a three-day Billy Graham School of Evangelism last summer, she found that a Crusade was indeed coming to New York.
“I flipped out,” Tedesco said. “I had been praying for that for two years. I was wondering, ‘Lord, how am I going to be part of this Crusade?’”
The answer came quickly. Someone at the School of Evangelism suggested that Tedesco volunteer her time at the Crusade office, and since September she’s been doing just that. “I love Kingdom work,” Tedesco said. “I want people to be saved and to know that eternity is what matters most.”
Tedesco and her husband, John, are among thousands of New Yorkers who have been praying for friends and telling people about Christ in the months leading up to the Crusade. Nancy has been consciously making herself available to God wherever she is and, as a result, has had many opportunities to witness in her neighborhood. John has done the same in his window treatment business. Recently, while serving on jury duty, he led a young man to Christ.
“The Holy Spirit is stirring people,” Nancy said. “So that’s why He wants us to open our mouths and talk.”
Throughout the greater New York City area, more than 1,000 churches are participating in the Crusade, which will be held June 24-26 at Flushing Meadows Corona Park, in Queens. The area reportedly is one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse areas in the world.
“Flushing Meadows probably has more languages in that zip code than any one place in the world,” said David Epstein, pastor at Calvary Baptist Church. “I think that’s going to be a great symbol of the love of God for the world.”
Flushing Meadows Park has a history of world impact. The 1964-1965 World’s Fair took place at the park, attracting nearly 50 million visitors over two seasons. The fair included a Billy Graham Pavilion that presented the Gospel daily. In a 400-seat auditorium with a large, wrap-around movie screen, 12 times each day the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association presented an innovative film, Man in the 5th Dimension, with translation into Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Russian and Spanish. More than 4 million people visited the Pavilion, thousands responded to the invitation to receive Christ, and 50,000 people received Billy Graham’s book “Peace With God.”
This June, on the same site as the World’s Fair, the Greater New York Billy Graham Crusade will set up a platform and bleachers, along with thousands of chairs, to accommodate the crowds that are expected to come and hear the Good News of Jesus.
In the meantime, Christians are participating in Operation Andrew, in which they develop relationships with people who need Christ, talk with them about Jesus and invite them to the Crusade. Thousands of Christians also have attended Christian Life and Witness Classes, which help strengthen spiritual lives, encourage personal witnessing and train people to serve as Crusade counselors.
At the heart of the Crusade preparation is prayer. In recent years thousands of New Yorkers have been involved in a far-reaching prayer effort. Many of those who have prayed for so long are now including the Crusade in their prayers. David Ireland, pastor at Christ Church, in Verona, N.J., said his church is one of the many praying for the Crusade. The church prays each Wednesday night for the Crusade, and more than 100 intercessors pray daily.
Thousands of New Yorkers are expected to participate in “Pray New York!” on June 4. Participants will pray for the city as they walk the streets and distribute invitations to the Billy Graham Crusade.
And Christians outside the Greater New York City area are praying as well. Barbara Yovino, vice president of Christian Hope Network, in Brooklyn, oversees some 30,000 intercessors worldwide who are praying for the Crusade.
“We want to see revival in New York,” Yovino said. “We want to see people saved, healed, set free. We want to see hope; we want to see joy in their hearts. We are believing that God is going to move powerfully.”