As Will Graham spoke on God creating mankind for the purpose of knowing Him, Ricki* perked up and leaned forward, intent on listening to what this evangelist from North Carolina had to say. Though she felt like her church youth group leader had drug her to this meeting and initially this was the last place in the world she wanted to be, now Ricki was hanging on to Will’s every word.
“God didn’t create you for a vocation, He created you for a relationship,” Will told the 1,450 people attending the Saturday evening service of the Trinity Valley Will Graham Celebration in Terrell, Texas, east of Dallas.
“But the only way you can fulfill God’s purpose in your life is to surrender your life into Your Master’s hands,” Will added. “That’s God. And when you confess your sins and ask Jesus Christ to take control of your life, God will forgive you. He will make you a new person, give you a fresh start and your purpose of knowing Him through a personal relationship through Jesus can be fulfilled.”
Tears welled in Ricki’s eyes. “Nobody’s ever told me I can have purpose in life,” the 13-year-old thought. “Maybe there is hope for me.”
Instead of pushing her youth group leader away and keeping her at arm’s length as she often did in the past, Ricki grabbed Valerie’s* hand and walked to the front of the Terrell ISD Performing Arts Center—as did 93 others who came forward at Will’s invitation Saturday night to commit their lives to Jesus Christ.
Ricki was paired with Krystal,* a local youth pastor and trained volunteer counselor. Krystal asked Ricki why she came forward. “I’m here to accept Christ,” the teenager responded, with clarity and boldness in her voice.
“That’s awesome,” Krystal said. But the 28-year-old sensed from God that there was more to Ricki’s story, something deeper going on in her life. So she shared part of her own testimony.
“I want you to know there’s going to be times when you may feel like giving up,” Krystal said. “I know. Before I gave my life to Christ when I was 17 and in high school, I was suicidal and used to cut myself and wanted to die. But Jesus dramatically transformed my life.”
Before Krystal could get another word out, Ricki looked down and began to cry. “Why are you crying, Sweetie?” Krystal gently asked.
Ricki pulled up the sleeve of her sweater. There on her left arm were cut marks where she had repeatedly slashed herself.
“Oh Baby, I know how you feel,” Krystal said, taking Ricki’s hands into hers. “God loves you. But you need to stop that. You don’t need to do that anymore. The Bible says that God will never leave you, and He will never forsake you. He will always be with you and give you the strength every day.
“Jesus will change you completely,” Krystal added. “But you need to let Him have you completely.”
Ricki smiled and thanked Krystal for her encouraging words. “That’s what I needed somebody to tell me,” she said. So they bowed to pray, and Ricki gave her heart to Christ as her Lord and Savior.
Krystal put her arm around Ricki’s shoulder and turned toward Valerie. “Now, your youth group leader is here for you,” Krystal said. “Don’t push her away. She will help you get into the Bible and help you grow as a Christian.”
With a twinkle in her eye, Krystal told Ricki, “You’re a new creation now, and you’re going to make it.” The three hugged.
Though Saturday evening’s service was dubbed “Youth Night,” it easily could have been called “Family Night.”
Lillie walked forward to receive Christ. She saw her Aunt Lori down in front and ran to her. So excited to see her niece, Lori, who was one of the hundreds serving as volunteer counselors, talked with Lillie and led her to Jesus. Lillie is the 9-year-old daughter of Lori’s older sister. “It was so awesome to counsel with Lillie and for her to pray to accept Christ as her Savior,” Lori said. “I’ve been praying for her for years to make a decision for Jesus.”
Then choking back her emotions, Lori explained that Lillie’s parents are not yet believers in Christ. She said she told Lillie to go home and take the Bible study from the Gospel of John that she received and have her mom and dad go over it with her every day. “Now I’m praying that God will use His Word and Lillie’s testimony to bring my sister and her husband to the Lord,” Lori said.
Gene Lindsey, pastor of the Calvary Baptist Church from nearby Wills Point, had a similar moment of praise. His 13-year-old granddaughter, Madison, came to the Celebration last night with other people from the church’s youth group. Madison asked Jesus into her heart.
“It’s just indescribable,” Pastor Lindsey said when asked how he felt witnessing his granddaughter come to faith. “We’ve been praying for her since before she was born, just like we did with our own daughter. God’s once again been faithful.”
*Not real name. Pseudonyms were used to protect privacy.
OTHER STORIES FROM TEXAS
Transformed Prodigal’s Powerful Tale
One former prodigal says of this weekend’s Celebration: “It’s a privilege to take part in this united effort with so many good churches so that lost souls can hear that God loves them, that Christ died for them and that they can have their lives transformed forever by the power of the Gospel.”
Washed in the River of Forgiveness
Close to 200 people made commitments to Jesus over the three-day Celebration and attendance totaled 5,000. Considering that the population of this North Texas town is roughly 15,500, the numbers elicit a shout of praise.
Riding High for Christ
Former bareback bronc champion Todd Pierce, who ministers on the professional bull riding circuit, will share his testimony at the second of two Will Graham Texas Celebrations.
Mapping Out a Plan to Reach Terrell, Texas
Blowing up an 8-foot-tall map, Pastor John Lowrie and First Baptist Church is making sure every home in Terrell, Texas, is prayed over for the Trinity Valley Will Graham Celebration this weekend.
Tedashii’s Holy Hip-Hop
Looking forward to the Trinity Valley Celebration, Tedashii said he appreciates being part of the Will Graham team and the spirit of prayer that saturates these events. “You can just look out and see God moving here. There is no where I’d rather be.”
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