It was a night to remember for many Hispanics in southern California.
And not because of the Mexico-U.S. Gold Cup soccer match at the Rose Bowl.
Some 25 miles south, at another bilingual event in Carson, Calif., there was plenty on the line at the first Festival de Esperanza on U.S. soil.
While Mexico beat the U.S. 4-2 in Pasadena, the only outcome that mattered on Saturday night were the thousands of souls hanging in the balance as they heard Franklin Graham preach the Gospel message.
“Tonight, at this Center, there’s a more important game, which is the destiny of your life,” Festival Festikids Director David Ruiz said.
Hundreds of Hispanics accepted Christ, an emotional scene in the cool of the night at the Home Depot Center, a 27,000-seat soccer stadium.
“I’ve been to three futbol games here,” a Festival counselor named Robert said after watching a rush of Latinos flood the infield. “And this is way better than any futbol game.”
This weekend’s Festival is the first of its kind in the 60-plus-year history of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, working specifically through the Hispanic churches of the L.A. area. In Los Angeles County alone there are 4.7 million Hispanics, making up 47 percent of the population.
But while the program consisted of Hispanic music, performed by singers like Daniel Calveti and Lilly Goodman, the Gospel message of hope and peace remained unchanged, regardless of the format or translation.
“Are you searching for personal happiness?” Graham began a message about the prodigal son from Luke 15. “Are you trying to fill your life with things that can make you happy?”
Graham has preached in all but one of the Spanish-speaking countries in Central and South America, with the lone exception being Guatemala.
Ironically, two teenagers, who came to Los Angeles three years ago from Guatemala, were among those making a decision to put their faith and trust in Jesus.
“There’s a peace in my heart,” Santos, 18, said. “I give thanks to God for everything tonight.”
Santos came to the Home Depot Center off an invitation from his uncle, Agusto, also 18-years-old (and just 4 months older). Agusto heard about Festival de Esperanza on the radio.
Both come from primarily non-Christian families.
“I think God did something in my life tonight and I’m happy,” Santos said. “I know God lives in my heart forever.”
Please join us in praying for the Festival de Esperanza in Los Angeles this weekend. You can see how God will move by watching a live webcast from the Home Depot Center Sunday starting at 5 p.m.. Find out more »