The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) is in the midst of a full 2014 Crusade schedule that spans five continents.
From the Texas desert to the Japanese coast, Franklin Graham plans to hold Festivals in seven cities in 2014.
His son, Will Graham, has five Celebrations scheduled, from Clinton, Miss., to Broken Hill, Australia.
Add in two associate evangelists—Robert Cunville in India and David Ruiz in Latin America—and the BGEA has a total of 26 Crusade events on the 2014 calendar.
Viktor Hamm, vice president of Crusades, says the full schedule is a sign that evangelism is alive and well.
“The Lord opens up new doors of ministry,” Hamm said, “and in spite of all of the pessimistic views of some of the leaders in the world and in the Church, the doors for evangelism are still very wide open, because the Lord opens the doors. It’s not politics. It’s not economics.”
On March 14-16, Will Graham will hold a Celebration in Fukuoka, Japan, located in the far southwest corner of the island nation. Two months later, Franklin Graham will preach some 900 miles to the northeast, in Sapporo.
The BGEA has a long history in Japan. Billy Graham first visited the country in 1952, stopping at several military bases. He returned again in 1956 before holding Crusades in 1967 (Tokyo), 1980 (Naha, Osaka, Fukuoka, Tokyo) and 1994 (Tokyo).
Franklin Graham held a Festival in Okinawa in 2006. His international relief organization, Samaritan’s Purse, has also been active in Japan, responding with aid in the aftermath of the catastrophic 2011 earthquake and tsunami. In March of 2012, Franklin Graham shared the Gospel just before the one-year tsunami anniversary in Sendai.
In 2013, Will Graham preached in Fukushima, where people are still suffering from the disaster and the resulting meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
The upcoming Festivals and Celebrations will offer hope to the Japanese people, as Franklin and Will preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
“The culture in Japan is so different from the rest of the world,” Hamm said. “They have very little concept of a living God, a personal God. The same applies to most of the Asian countries where they have 300 million gods but none of them is a personal God. The local churches are very much eager to have BGEA work along with them.”
Crusade events will also be held in India throughout the year, led by BGEA associate evangelist Rev. Dr. Robert Cunville.
Will Graham has two Celebrations planned on the Australian continent. The first is in the Australian Outback, in the town of Broken Hill, New South Wales. The Will Graham Reality Event is scheduled for May 9-11.
Two months later, he heads to the island of Papua New Guinea for a Celebration in Mount Hagen. That event is scheduled to take place July 25-27.
In June, Franklin Graham will head to Europe for two back-to-back Festivals. The first is planned for the country of Georgia, located south of Russia, where Eastern Europe meets Western Asia. The Imedis Festivali (Festival of Hope) will be held in Tbilisi, Georgia, on June 6-8.
Excitement is already brewing in the predominantly orthodox country, home to churches formed as early as the fourth century.
“The evangelical church is very small,” Hamm said. “This is the first time all the evangelical churches are working together. The first time ever.”
Church leaders are using their new-found unity to reach beyond Georgia to the neighboring countries of Armenia and Azerbaijan.
“We will have buses coming from those countries,” Hamm said. “And we will provide interpretation of those languages.”
Just six days after the Tbilisi Festival comes to a close, Franklin Graham will preach in Poland, a country where Billy Graham once held a Crusade in the middle of the Cold War, in October 1978.
Franklin Graham will carry on the legacy more than three decades later as he preaches the Gospel in Warsaw on June 14-15, 2014.
Like Georgia, Hamm says Poland is seeing unprecedented unity among its evangelical churches as the Festival draws closer.
In 2014, David Ruiz will represent the BGEA in Latin America with Crusade events in Mexico and Ecuador. Ruiz’s Crusades will continue the ministry’s 55-year history in that part of the world.
Billy Graham first visited Mexico in 1958, returning in 1975 and holding a Crusade in Mexico City in 1981.
Franklin Graham held Festivals in Mexico in 2003 (Veracruz), 2004 (Tijuana) and 2008 (Villahermosa).
Both father and son have also preached in Ecuador, in 1962 (Quito Crusade) and 2006 (Quito Festival).
Will Graham kicks off the North American Crusade lineup with the Central Mississippi Celebration in Clinton on March 28-30.
Franklin Graham will hold Festivals in three U.S. cities in 2014. The Greater El Paso Festival of Hope is scheduled for April 5-6. Training for that event begins in February and will be offered in English and Spanish.
Sandwiched between the Pittsburgh and Erie events is a Canadian event, The Greater Toronto Festival of Hope on Sept. 12-14.
New in 2014, all of the North American Festivals will take place at indoor venues.
Praying for God to Move
As the BGEA Crusade team looks ahead to 2014, Hamm says each evangelist is praying for the cities he will visit.
“The burden God has put into the hearts of the local leaders is the same burden He has put into the hearts of the evangelists,” Hamm said. “God is really working in the hearts of the evangelists for these particular regions.”
Whether they’re sharing the Gospel in El Paso or Papua New Guinea, the members of the Crusade team are praying for people to be open to the message of hope—an unchanging message that crosses language barriers and cultural divides and goes straight to the heart.