Tales Of Celebration

By   •   September 16, 2008

As the Festival office in Charleston begins its final week of preparations before this weekend’s activities, we wanted to share with you some stories from the Franklin Graham Celebration of Hope in Belfast, Ireland. These are first-hand accounts from counselors who were there in April. May these stories inspire you to continue to pray and give to the vision of proclaiming the Gospel throughout the uttermost parts of the world.

• I counseled my Operation Andrew friend that I brought with me! She had been searching for many months, reading the Bible a little and going to church. She arrived at the Odyssey adamant in her mind that she was not ready to make a commitment to God. However, when Franklin Graham was talking she felt she could not say no to God’s offer of forgiveness and love. She felt drawn out of her seat by “someone” and had absolutely no desire to resist. I had been praying for her for some time and am delighted by what God is doing in her life. I am just thrilled by what I see God has done and is doing through the Celebration.

• The lady I spoke with had made a commitment at age 16, but lost her faith when her mother died, blaming unanswered prayer. She recommitted her life to Christ at the Celebration at 61 years of age. She has good friends supporting her and has been attending Alpha. My conversion was through Alpha and was connected to the loss of my mother. God draws people together similar circumstances!

• It was lovely to see couples coming forward. The lady I spoke with is a nurse who was recently saved, but just needed some assurance. She had come forward with her husband who wanted to be saved.

• I counseled a man who has a problem with alcohol which has deeply affected his life, ruining his relationships with family. He came forward and is hoping to move forward to a more mature attitude in life. He needed Jesus in his life to start this move forward, as well as the power of the Holy Spirit. He starts a new job this week.

• I spoke with a mother who made a personal first time commitment on Sunday evening. She is already established in a church and her 9 year old daughter had been praying for her! Her church friends had been praying for some years, as well, so she will have good support.

• I counseled a man whose wife also came forward on Sunday night. Their kids went forward on Saturday at KidzFest!

• I texted my daughter early Saturday morning and asked her to attend Saturday night of the Celebration. I was thinking it was too late, as she would be going out with friends – she has just turned 18 and likes to party. She said “Dad, if you go with me, I’ll go”. Seeing everybody packed into the Odyssey, she turned to me and said “I thought Christianity was supposed to be dying?” When Franklin spoke the simple gospel message called people down at the finish, my daughter turned and kissed me on the cheek and went down. I then had the honor of counseling my daughter as she came to Christ!

• I counseled 2 sisters together. The encouraging part for me was that one of the sisters was a patient I had treated (this was one of our Special Counselors).

• Through the Celebration process I have grown so much as a Christian and after this weekend I am so much more ready and willing to share my faith.

• I brought my sister along to the Celebration. She suffers from MS and doesn’t have much confidence. When I asked her if she would like to go forward, she said yes and I knew God was answering my prayers. When we left the Odyssey she said she felt so good and started calling people to tell them. The change in her is amazing – Praise God!

• I have been involved in Alpha groups and one of the other members who became a Christian 2 years ago, signed up to be an Encourager. He counseled 2 on Saturday and 1 on Sunday and was so thrilled. He is 20 years old and on fire for Jesus. Many others in our group also brought friends to the Celebration. Thank you for putting evangelism back on center stage in the church.

• My Inquirer thought that going to church made him a Christian. On Sunday he was in tears with conviction. On Monday he told a work colleague who also encouraged him in his faith. God is good!

• This was the best experience of my life so far! When counseling my group of 3 young girls, one answered, “It’s like there is something to believe in now, someone to follow, someone to live for!”

• The girl I spoke to was one of 4 friends who came because of visit to their school that week by the group 29th Chapter. All 4 girls came forward to accept Christ as their Savior.

• During counseling I had the opportunity to talk to a 13 year old girl on Friday night. She made a commitment to Christ and explained that she had felt so far away from him. On Sunday night she came down again, but this time with a friend! It was just so amazing to see this child of God already encouraging her friends to make the same decision.

• My 2 Inquirers were evidence of how Operation Andrew works so well. The 42 year old Inquirer was brought by her Christian sister of 7 years. I asked her what made her come out and she said she just felt something drawing her and she couldn’t sit in her seat – obviously the Holy Spirit at work. The other Inquirer was coming back to God and was brought by her local church. She was 22 years old, read her Bible all the time, but knew she wasn’t a Christian. She and her 14 year old sister came forward together. I have felt so blessed being a Counselor and I think it is one of the best things I have done yet. I have been a Christian since I was 7 years old and am now 42 – and I have had a struggle with sharing my faith, but after doing the Christian Life & Witness Course, I have gotten a better confidence about doing it and I hope to continue this on my own now.

• I was paired with a man about 30 years old. As we got to the floor, he had obviously been affected by the message. While standing there a woman about the same age joined him and put her arm on his shoulder. When the time came to counsel, I found that they were husband and wife and that they were Christians but because of their lifestyle, had each decided to rededicate their lives to Christ. It was a real privilege to speak with them. P.S. I would never have been able to do this if I hadn’t completed the Christian Life & Witness Course. I am thankful for the strength and courage that God has given me through the Course.

• I had the opportunity to counsel a 31 year old on Saturday evening. She had seen the event advertised all over Belfast and came with her brother. She was so emotional when she came forward, and I had to pray that I would remain calm and not tear up along with her. What an awesome day it was!

• I counseled children from our church on Saturday morning. As we began follow-up that week, we were planning on providing support to about 15 children. But as we have been visiting those homes, other siblings have told how they had made a commitment in the past, but hadn’t told anyone, so now we can support them better too. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

• I counseled my sister-in-law (she and her husband, her brother and I were all married in a double ceremony 25 years ago). Her mother, who has since passed away, was a great encouragement to me and always prayed that her family would share her faith. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to be with her daughter as she found her faith in Christ.

• I had fallen in and out of my relationship with my boyfriend of 5½ years because I was constantly reminded that we were unequally yoked. I was active in church and had so many people praying for him, but he remained in the world. I had him on my Operation Andrew card and prayed that the Holy Spirit would move him. I was so excited when he agreed right away to go to the Celebration with me on Friday night. The atmosphere was awesome and I prayed so hard that he would go forward at the invitation, but he didn’t even though he was interested in the message. I was devastated. That Sunday I ended our relationship. But once I ended the relationship God finished the work he had started. My boyfriend was restored in his own house, after work on Monday night! Praise God. He was spoken to through the Celebration – so I hope you add him to your statistics!

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