Join us January 9 for a live webstream of the Festival and see God answer prayers. The streaming will begin at 1:30 p.m. at billygraham.org/HaitiLive.
December 7 Update:
When Pastor Vladimir Dorsainvil pauses to hug a crying child or share a word of encouragement with a grieving mother, he is drawing on strength the Lord gave him when his wife and daughter were killed in the January earthquake.
“God will do the same for other Haitian people,” he says, “if they receive Jesus Christ as their Savior. The people of Haiti need hope. That’s why it is important not only to have a festival, but a Festival of Hope. I pray that the Gospel–the power of God–will heal our people.”
The pastor’s prayers will be answered on Jan. 8 and 9, 2011, when Franklin Graham brings the hope of the Gospel message to Haiti’s National Soccer Stadium in response to a heartfelt invitation from 75 Haitian pastors. The local leadership team has been working under the direction of Pastor Jean Robert Bilda, in cooperation with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), to bring this Festival to fruition.
According to Festival Director Sherman Barnette, Haiti’s pastors want to “take back their country” from voodoo, devastation and hopelessness. “Pastor Bilda and the others were telling us that before the earthquake, the people were going about their everyday business. At that time, they were not open to the Gospel, and now they are. They see that their lives can be turned upside down in seconds.”
Barnette believes that the Festival will provide much-needed encouragement for the pastors and the general Christian community who now face a cholera outbreak on top of the earthquake devastation.
“We had Festival information meetings in five different areas. About 700 people attended those, and 493 churches were represented in these meetings – which is excellent from our standpoint.
“In my 20 years of doing this,” he adds, “I have never worked with a group of people more excited about a Festival and having Franklin come. As far as preparation for the Festival goes, all you have to do is hint that something needs to be done and they are all over it. They get it done.”
Discipleship trainer John Cass would agree: “The people were so gracious. In all my years of doing this training—for the last 10 or 12 years—this was one of most engaged groups. They were very excited about the material and the long-term potential for their churches, using these tools.”
The Kwazzad Espwa Nan Kris, or Festival of Hope, is just one part of a coordinated effort that began when Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains landed in Haiti one day after a 7.0 earthquake destroyed much of the tiny island nation on Jan. 12. Working alongside volunteers from Samaritan’s Purse, the chaplains continue to serve in Haiti, meeting the spiritual and emotional needs of the Haitian people.
To date, 50 chaplains have prayed with 17,692 people. More than 1,370 Haitians have accepted Christ for the first time since January.
December brings an Operation Christmas Child (OCC) shoebox distribution to Haiti, which is accompanied by The Greatest Journey, a 12-session Bible study program for children after they receive their gift. In addition, BGEA is making preparations for its My Hope evangelism project to take place in July 2011.
Through these concerted outreach efforts, BGEA is sowing the seeds of the Gospel—and praying for a rich harvest. Pastor Vladimir says the people of Haiti are ready: “Right now the hearts of the Haitian people are like a fertile ground. Whatever you sow, whatever you plant will grow. The people of Haiti are looking for answers. The only solution to Haiti’s problems is Jesus Christ.”
Vladimir hopes many of his friends and loved ones will resemble the man in Matthew 13:23: “The one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
In addition to helping with the Festival, Vladimir is distributing OCC shoe box gifts and teaching The Greatest Journey lessons, even while facing Christmas without his wife and daughter. He says, “I’m very excited because The Greatest Journey shares the Gospel. It has opened the hearts of the children to continue to love Jesus Christ.”
“Christmas in Haiti this year is going to be pretty tough,” says Franklin Graham. “This country is still struggling, even though there have been some great things that have happened this past year. We want to do everything we can to not only help the people of Haiti, but to reach them with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
40 Days of Prayer
We’re looking for prayer partners who will join us in fervent prayer for this suffering nation. Visit this page each day for a new prayer request. Will you pray?
We’re looking for prayer partners who will join us in fervent prayer for this suffering nation.
Find a new prayer request each day »