Perhaps one of Billy Graham’s trademarks during Crusades was his ability to deliver the Gospel clearly and simply. Both Franklin Graham and his son Will Graham have also adopted the practice as they return years later to preach in some of the same nations.
On the final day of the Celebration of Hope in Fukuoka, Will used an everyday example of paying for a meal to explain the price Jesus paid for our sins.
A few days prior, Will ate at a nearby restaurant and was recognized by a local pastor while he was there.
“After I ate, I knew I had to pay. I owed a debt to the restaurant. But when I went to pay, I was told my bill was taken care of,” he explained.
Even though Will didn’t ask for or do anything for his bill to be paid, it was still satisfied by someone else.
“That’s what Jesus did for us and our sin,” he said.
And like light bulbs, eyes lit up in the crowd with understanding.
By the time Will stepped to the podium, the groundwork had already been laid for him. Sunday’s event took on a different format by including Bible readings mixed with musical performances and portions of the “JESUS” film shown on screen.
Because of the culture and polytheism in Japan, leaders knew it was important attendees left with a clear understanding of who Jesus is.
”The film was perfect because (Japanese) are more visual. When they see something it helps them to understand,” counselor and pastor Moses Gibbs explained. “A picture paints a thousand words.”
Perhaps that’s why so many young people came forward during the invitation. On Sunday, about 40 percent of the decision cards were for someone under 18.
One counselor was able to pray with a group of four boys, all age 13. He said the friends came with a church group, but not everyone in the group believed in Christ.
Shotako told the counselor he knew he’d been sinning and walked forward to repent. After watching the “JESUS” film, Tsuneto was also changed. “I wanted to live for Christ,” he said.
The Celebration of Hope was a long-awaited event. From the local committee to the ushers and counselors, excitement has been growing since the start of the year.
“We’ve been praying for this country for a long time that the Word of God would saturate Japan,” Gibbs said. “Two nights in a row we saw a great harvest.”
And Fukuoka’s convenient airport and popular railway stations allowed the harvest to extend far beyond its city limits. Many commuted from other towns and even countries to participate.
Gibbs traveled with a group of 20 from Sasebo, Japan, near Nagasaki—about two-and-a-half-hours from Fukuoka. They served as English-speaking counselors and ironically talked with many Filipinos about Christ, as well as a few Americans.
Some people were surprised being greeted at the door by an usher from Tanzania who spoke perfect Japanese. Other counselors were from nearby cities like Tokyo and Sendai.
Those at the Fukuoka Celebration are already looking forward to BGEA’s return to Japan. Franklin Graham will be back in May to preach in Sapporo.
Lena Maria, who sang both nights of the Celebration, will also perform during that event. As she finished her final song Sunday, she introduced four Sapporo pastors participating in the upcoming Festival and asked those in Fukuoka to attend.
Sunday’s Celebration started with a children’s program. Actors dressed as Japanese characters bounced around in big colorful suits to keep the little ones engaged. The program was made up primarily of a play demonstrating evil. Before the kids left, host Yuri Mori prayed with them and asked if anyone wanted to know Jesus. She smiled as hands darted in the air with excitement.
It was a weekend of Harvest throughout Fukuoka. Between the women’s luncheon with evangelist Robert Cunville, a banquet put on by local pastors, and the two nights of Will preaching the Gospel, hundreds of people responded through the weekend, putting their faith in Jesus Christ.