What motivates people to take an hourlong bus ride on a Sunday afternoon, or sit at the back balcony in an arena at full capacity?
Whether it was curiosity or excitement, thousands came to see what the Festival Esperanza CDMX (Mexico City Festival of Hope) was all about—with many longing to know if there really is something more to life than the daily grind.
It’s no coincidence who ended up in the audience February 12 on the second and final night of the Festival in Mexico City—people like Miriam, a 25-year-old in a pink T-shirt and white jeans who had tears running down her face. The tears fell on her shirt as she closed her eyes and prayed along with Franklin Graham to ask Jesus Christ to forgive her sins and give her a fresh start.
“Whatever problem you face, Jesus Christ is the answer,” he told more than 27,000 people gathered inside Mexico City’s Arena CDMX and in an overflow area just outside.
Whether it’s addiction, a marriage that’s falling apart, an unwanted pregnancy, or other challenge, Franklin Graham said, Christ is the only One with the power to cleanse your heart and help you overcome those trials.
>>Don’t face temptation alone. God can help you overcome it. Read more.
Miriam said she’s been stuck in a particular sin and has been struggling to get past it. Franklin Graham’s message reminded her that there is a way out with God’s help.
She’s known about God for a while, but at the event, she finally decided to put her life in Christ’s hands. Before heading home, Miriam said she wants to pray more, start reading the new Bible she received, and maybe even use her musical abilities for God’s glory.
“You can experience a new birth tonight,” Franklin Graham explained from the podium. He told the story of Nicodemus, a religious leader who came to see Jesus. It was during that visit, recorded in John 3 of the Bible, that Jesus said a person must be born again to enter Heaven.
Not a physical rebirth, but a spiritual one.
“You want a new heart? You come to Christ,” Franklin Graham said. “Don’t go back to your sinful life. Turn from it. He’s got a whole new life for you.”
A New Beginning for Newly Married Couple
Cesir and Gabby sat in the stands, listening. The couple has been married two years and came to the event on a bus at the invitation of a pastor’s wife.
Cesir is a private driver, and Gabby works as a cook in a hospital kitchen. They occasionally go to church, but it wasn’t until that night that they, too, decided it’s time for a new life with Christ.
Gabby described it as an “emotional” moment when they walked to the front of the arena together in response to Franklin Graham’s Gospel message.
Heading back to the bus after the event, Cesir explained how he felt God’s peace and tranquility after accepting Christ and receiving a Bible. Holding his wife’s hand, he said that it marks a fresh beginning for them as a couple, and they look forward to starting on this new path together.
‘Actually Yes, I Would Love To’
Abel also works as a driver and was assigned to transport some Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) staff members to the Festival over the weekend. He’d never heard the Gospel before, and instead of waiting in his car during the event, he watched from the overflow area.
At the end of the second night, Franklin Graham’s message spoke to his heart. Abel wanted to respond to the Good News, but he was too shy to go forward with the others.
Later, as he waited in the arena’s parking lot, a woman approached him to talk more about God and handed him a New Testament. In one of the largest cities in the world, the woman happens to attend a church near Abel, and invited him to come, an invitation he said he’d like to take her up on.
Before Abel’s weekend assignment wrapped up, the woman asked if he wanted to surrender his life to Christ.
“Yes, actually yes, I would love to,” he answered.
Abel prayed out loud, declaring Jesus Christ is the Son of God and expressing his desire to turn from his sins and trust in Him as his Lord and Savior.
Billy Graham Evangelistic Association writer Giselle Seidel contributed to this story.