Not only did a record crowd attend the final night at Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum on Sunday, but attendance for the three-night event was a record too. Coliseum officials estimated 12,000 people packed into the arena Sunday night to hear the Gospel and the music of Skillet, hip-hop artist TobyMac and contemporary Christian artist Matthew West, creating a one-night record for the Will Graham Celebration ministry.
The overall attendance for all three nights was approximately 19,700. Hundreds of people responded to Will’s messages and gave their lives to Christ.
Throughout the weekend, Will challenged the audience to look at eternity. “Some of you are out there thinking, ‘I’m going to do some good things, and hopefully they’ll outweigh the bad things and I’ll get to Heaven.’ My friends, nothing can be further from the truth,” he shared from the stage. “Truth is not an idea. Truth is a person; the person of Jesus Christ.”
“I’ve had friends from Columbus, Ga., to Birmingham, Ala., who have told me that their faith has been impacted and deepened by Will’s messages and the words and music of the artists,” said Banks Herndon, the chairman of the local Celebration executive committee. “Nearly everyone I’ve spoken with has said that the most powerful part of the services was seeing firsthand hundreds of children, students and adults respond to Will’s invitation to let Christ become the Master of their lives.”
Rev. Clifford Jones, pastor of Greater Peace Missionary Baptist Church and the chairman of the Celebration’s pastor’s committee, added, “Almost two years ago we started on this journey, and as we traveled on our way God has done a marvelous work in this city. God has brought together churches, denominations and ethnicities, and we continue to work together today. This is just the beginning.”
As Will prepared to return home to the mountains of North Carolina, he said, “It’s my prayer that those who came forward these past few days will ultimately change Auburn, Lee County and beyond. This has been a blessed weekend.”
March 27– Saturday sizzled in Auburn! Close to 1,200 kids and parents came out for a fun-filled afternoon with Go Fish and Tommy Toombs. One hundred fifty nine of those precious children made life-changing decisions for Jesus. Hours later, Matthew West, Canton Jones and DecembeRadio rocked out, and Will Graham once more moved hearts toward Christ with his message about loneliness from John 5. “I’ve never regretted following Jesus,” said Will. Three thousand attended, and 154 made decisions.
March 26– Hello, Auburn! Will Graham and a number of amazing artists hit Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum tonight with the hope of Jesus Christ and a lot of great music. Matthew West, Trip Lee and Diamond Rio brought the crowd of 3,500 to its feet with both praise and funk. Will spoke from the Gospel of Matthew, asking the audience, “What will you do with Jesus?” More than 230 people responded from their hearts.
Although the actual Celebration is this weekend, people have been preparing for months by learning to share their faith and by reaching out the community. Check out what’s already been happening in the greater Auburn area:
Will Graham Takes Up Grandfather’s Torch in Auburn
As Will Graham preaches on the Auburn University campus this weekend, he is following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Billy, who left an indelible mark on Alabama in 1965. Many people of both races walked forward together to accept Christ during that Crusade. “That was right on the rise of the Civil Rights Movement, so one thing we were seeking was good race relations,” said one leader.
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Desperate For Change
Steve Bass, Student Pastor at Opelika’s Trinity United Methodist Church, is in full swing preparation for the East Alabama/West Georgia Will Graham Celebration, which will be held on the grounds of Auburn University. He said, “We have been praying for something like this for a long time. We’re very ready for this. We know God has something big up his sleeve, and can’t wait to see He’s going to do.”
Read about Auburn’s readiness for the Gospel »
Shane Kyles wants to see revival throughout the Auburn area. One way he is working toward this revival is sharing the love of Jesus through practical ways, like home repairs for the disabled or those who cannot afford it. He does this on a regular basis through a local ministry called The Way, and now he is doing it to help spiritually prepare his region for the Celebration as the Community Action Project Coordinator.
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Demonstrating His Love Through Service
Far in advance of the Will Graham Celebration this weekend, people have been working behind the scenes to see that those in need receive the ministry of service. From roofing homes and churches to repairing floors and porches to painting walls, acts of service were done to physically demonstrate the love of Christ.
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Same Gospel, Different Generation
In the very state where Billy Graham held groundbreaking crusades four decades ago, a new generation is helping to raise disciples. More than 650 teens recently got down to the basics of what they believe, find the power to live what they say, and learn how to share their faith with their peers.
Check it out »