Night One: Festival of Hope Romania

By   •   July 4, 2008

Everyone in the choir wears black pants or a skirt, a white shirt, and a royal blue bow tie. The ties are reminiscent of the royal blue in Romania’s flag, which has three sections: Red, yellow, and blue.

6:56 p.m. In front of the right side of the stage, a section of seats is set up for guests with special needs, the only place in this stadium that is accessible for wheelchairs. A sign language interpreter is signing the entire service, including the words to songs, for those who have impaired hearing.

7:03 p.m. A multi-sectioned banner spells out, “Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life” in Romanian around the top border of the stadium. The purple seats around the stadium are filling quickly.

7:35 p.m. A symphony orchestra is playing onstage while people find
their seats or walk around the red booths at the top of the stadium to buy chips, ice cream and soda that are for sale.

7:40 p.m. The Adoramus quartet is singing onstage now, four young men with strong voices. Their harmony is perfect. They sound like a Southern Gospel quartet, but of course they’re singing in Romanian, a language that sounds mostly like Spanish and a little like Russian.

7:57 p.m. Danial Safiris, a famous, young Romanian soccer player stands at the podium to tell the crowds how he has surrendered his life to Jesus Christ. Romanians love soccer the best of any sport, as in many countries.

The grass in the center of the stadium is perfect. No one is stepping on it either, because it’s partially roped off with bright red and white tape. An interpreter said earlier that it is “against the law” to step on the soccer grass. That might be an exaggerated translation, but they are serious about soccer around here.

The front part of the field will have plenty of people walking on it later when Franklin Graham gives the invitation to come and stand in front of the podium to make a declaration of faith.

8:05 p.m. Everyone is standing for the choir’s singing of the Hallelujah chorus. The sound fills the sky.

8:12 p.m. Onstage, John and Anne Barbour are singing “My Hope Is in the Lord” in Romanian. Even though they are American, the Barbours always sing a few songs in the local language of the Festival host country.

8:20 p.m. Even though the sun’s brightness and heat seemed to fill the stadium yesterday for the dedication, tonight the sun is behind a cloud. A cool wind is blowing through the entire arena although it’s still very bright outside. What a beautiful night!

8:28 p.m. Franklin Graham has just stepped up to the podium. His
translator, Otei, is even taller than he is!

Franklin Graham says, “Are you sure that your sins are forgiven? If you died tonight, would God welcome you into His presence? If you’re not sure, I’m going to give you an opportunity tonight to be sure.”

Protestant Christian women in Romania do not wear any jewelry. At first, it is not noticeable because they look very similar to American or European women, but at a closer look, it’s a simple and powerful sign, as the Bible says, that they are beautiful on the inside and not ornamented on the outside.

“What’s the obstacle keeping you from Christ?” Franklin Graham asks. “Sin is an obstacle. All of us have the stain of sin, and the only way that it can be removed is through Jesus Christ. Sin is disobedience to God’s standards. … And the Bible says if we claim to be without sin we deceive ourselves.”

8:55 p.m. We’ve just learned that exactly 19,283 people are here.

9:05 p.m. Franklin Graham gives the invitation. People are walking slowly forward. Just a few at first, and now a continual flow of people. Friends holding hands. Families. Adults holding the hands of children. The stands are emptying. So many people are walking forward! The choir is singing “Just As I Am” in Romanian along with the piano.

In the midst of the crowd are large white signs with the names of different languages printed on them: Magyar, or Hungarian. Srpski, or Serbian, sign language, and English. The Festival is translated into four different languages. Most in Timisoara are accustomed to hearing four languages: German, Serbian, Romanian, and Hungarian. Many people can speak some English as well.

9:15 p.m. Franklin Graham speaks to those who have come forward: “God has heard your prayer, and He’s forgiven you. When you read the Bible, God speaks to you. You can talk to God anyplace, anytime, but when you read the Bible, God speaks to you.”

Every person that makes a decision for Christ receives a copy of the Gospel of John from the New Testament. They are encouraged to read the first three chapters.

Right before the crowd disperses, the emcee prays. When people pray in Romania, they always stand.

More than 670 people have made a decision for Christ tonight at the Franklin Graham Festival of Hope in Timisoara, Romania.

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