Renewal from the Inside Out: Saipan Finds Hope in Jesus

By Ron Nickel and Thomas Petrino   •   February 21, 2020

On Friday, February 21, Franklin Graham proclaimed the Gospel message from an open-air amphitheater in Saipan—the largest island in the Marianas archipelago. You can find the remote island 1,500 miles south of Japan and 6,000 west of the California coast.
About 50,000 people call this tropical paradise home, where drugs, violence and gambling are reminders that physical beauty doesn’t satisfy the soul’s need for Christ.
Prayer is the foundation of every Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) event, and this outreach was no exception. Local pastors said Franklin Graham’s Festival was the first time area churches have joined together for an event of this magnitude.
Saipan residents were excited for the Marianas Festival of Hope to stop in their small community, which is the size of Washington, D.C.
Wearing his signature cowboy hat, Dennis Agajanian brought a folksy flair to the tropical island. “You're the liveliest group I think we've played for ever,” the guitarist told the crowd of mostly youth that filled the area in front of the stage.
Grammy award-winning musician Michael W. Smith then led the hundreds gathered in a sweet time of worship. “When you get to know the real Jesus, it’s a game-changer,” he said while concluding his hit song, “Draw Me Close.”
“All the earth worships you and sings praises to you; they sing praises to your name.” —Psalm 66:4
Midway through the evening, overflow seating was added to accommodate the large crowd.
February 21 wasn’t Franklin Graham’s first time ministering in Saipan. After Typhoon Yutu devastated the island in 2018, his international relief organization Samaritan’s Purse helped residents recover. “When tragedies like this happen, I believe sometimes God opens the door for us to come back and share the life-changing message of the Bible.”
The Mariana Islands are a melting pot of different cultures. Live translation made it possible for attendees to hear the Good News in their native language.
As Franklin Graham preached, local believers prepared to minister to those who would respond.
“What hope do we have? We’re sinners. We’re all guilty. Sin has infected the entire human race,” Franklin Graham explained. “Jesus Christ is our hope.”
Hundreds of people discovered the peace and purpose their souls have been searching for when they accepted Christ at the event.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” —2 Corinthians 5:17
Praise God for every soul He touched in Saipan. Join us in prayer as Franklin Graham heads to the southernmost Mariana Island, Guam, to hold another Festival.