Two continents on opposite sides of the globe will host evangelistic outreaches this weekend in what some might consider two of the most unlikely places:
Iceland and Japan.
But forget for a second all the studies that show how small the Christian populations are in these countries. Yes, Iceland is less than 4 percent; Japan around 1 percent.
Consider the call that convicts both a father and son both to share the Gospel in places where many people don’t even believe God exists.
That’s the challenge at hand this weekend for Franklin and Will Graham. And they both fervently request your prayers.
“Both of us are in tough places right now,” said Will Graham, who will be preaching near where people are still recovering from the March 2011 tsunami and nuclear power plant meltdown. “But we believe we’re both where God wants us to be.”
Specifically, Franklin Graham is in Reykjavik, Iceland, this week preparing for the Festival of Hope (or Hátíð Vonar) while Will Graham took the bullet train from Japan to Fukushima on Thursday for the Celebration of Hope.
“With dad being in Europe and I’m in Asia, that’s what the Gospel is about,” Will Graham said. “I guess in one sense we’re preaching to the uttermost parts of the world.”
Billy Graham’s events were well-known as “Crusades,” where he covered 185 countries and territories with the Gospel in nearly 60 years. Franklin Graham has preached the Good News at his “Festivals,” — more than 150 of them since 1989. Will Graham is in now in his 8th year of sharing Christ at his “Celebrations.”
“It shows how God has anointed that family and working through them to spread the Gospel message,” said Ken Barun, Chief of Staff at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
Always one to deflect any glory to the Heavenly Father, Billy Graham is set to turn 95 on Nov. 7 and is inviting the U.S. and Canada to celebrate with him with a passionate project called My Hope with Billy Graham.
A 30-minute program called “The Cross,” features a new message to America that has burdened Mr. Graham along with other life-changing testimonies. The program will air on his birthday and in the following days across North America both on live TV as well as streaming internet and DVDs distributed through the more than 22,000 involved churches.
My Hope gives believers a chance to invite their friends over to watch—and then opens up the door to ask them if they’d like to invite Christ into their lives. Just like Franklin Graham and Will Graham will be doing just hours apart on both Sept. 28 and 29.
“It’s the uniqueness of three different people in three different countries in three different languages but all speaking the same message,” Barun said. “It’s all about this thing called hope. And the message prevails over everything.”
But all three evangelists will be the first to say change can only happen one way — on our knees. And so far, more than 40 churches in Iceland and 60 in Fukushima have been praying for months, even years for this weekend.
“We need prayer,” Franklin Graham said. “We cannot do a Festival without prayer. It takes people praying for the unsaved.”
And it takes boldness to proclaim Christ as the catalyst of real change.
“Jesus died for the Japanese people. Jesus died for the people in Iceland,” Will Graham said. “Jesus died for the people in Asia for Europe for America and for the world. That’s what we’ll be preaching this weekend.”