The gold rush of 1849 prompted thousands to head to California, hastening America’s westward expansion. But not everyone who heeded the call to “go west” was looking for fame and fortune. Many families went in search of a better way of life.
After a long, hard journey, hundreds of weary travelers found rest in California’s Central Valley on land owned by Colonel Thomas Baker. Word quickly spread that settlers were welcome in Baker’s field, and in 1869 the town of Bakersfield was founded.
The city now is the 13th largest in California, with a population of nearly 400,000 in the greater metropolitan area. While Bakersfield has grown into a thriving center for agricultural and petroleum production, it remains a place where families are searching for a better way of life. That can be an elusive quest in today’s culture, where materialism and busyness can crowd out what’s truly important.
Christians know that there is only one hope. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die” (John 11:25-26, NKJV).
Franklin Graham will be proclaiming this life-giving message to the people of Bakersfield, April 2-4, when he leads the Kern County Festival at the 19,000-seat Memorial Stadium on the campus of Bakersfield College. More than 100 churches have been busy for months, training counselors and meeting weekly for prayer to ask for God’s blessing on this evangelistic event.
Those prayers and the proclamation of the Gospel could give new life to the words of Colonel Baker about the future of the town named after him. “This is God’s country! Someday it will be filled with happy homes. … The place is rich in future possibilities.”
- For God to speak through Franklin Graham, the musicians, counselors, and others involved in the Festival.
- That many people will respond to the Gospel and receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
- For the more than 100 churches that will be following up with those who make decisions for Christ.