The horrible news spread as quickly as the aftershocks. On March 11, 2011, at 2:46 p.m., a monstrous earthquake shook the eastern coast of Japan. Within an hour, a tsunami followed, further devastating the Sendai region and bringing death and misery in its wake.
One year later, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association will continue its mission of sharing God’s love with people in need at its first international Festival of 2012. “The Celebration of Hope with Franklin Graham will be a three-day event in Sendai, March 2-4, delivering the message that there is true love and eternal hope in Christ,” says Festival Director Chad Hammond.
“We will be there a week before this anniversary date to preach and to proclaim the Gospel,” says Franklin Graham, “This is not going to be easy. It is going to be tough, because this is not just a Crusade or a Festival. This is really a one-year anniversary memorial service, and so we need to be sensitive to the loss of life there in Sendai. But, at the same time, we will be bold as we present Jesus Christ as the Lord of lords and the King of kings. We pray that the hearts of the Japanese people will be open to receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
In April, Franklin Graham will take the Gospel to Accra, Ghana, then in June, he will return to Budapest, Hungary, where Billy Graham preached a number of times, most recently in 1989 to one of the largest crowds ever to assemble at People’s Stadium.
“I was there with my father back when it was under Communism,” says Franklin Graham, “and now to have this invitation to come to Hungary. It’s the first country my father went to in Eastern Europe, and so I’m looking forward to going back. It’s been 30 years since we’ve been there.”
Meanwhile, in the United States and Canada, BGEA plans once more to Rock—this time on the Great Lakes. Building on a successful three-year history of events geared toward reaching youth with appealing music and hard-hitting messages, Rock the Lakes has the potential to touch even more lives. “Some 50 million people live within an hour’s drive of the Great Lakes,” says Franklin Graham.
Dates for events in Buffalo, Green Bay and Rochester will be announced soon.
Will Graham, the third generation of Grahams to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ under the BGEA banner, will host two Celebrations in the greater-Dallas area this Spring: The Red River Celebration March 16-18, in Gainesville, Texas, and the Trinity Valley Celebration, March 23-25 in Terrell.
Preston Parrish, executive vice president of ministry for BGEA, points out how each city and event is covered in prayer. “It’s been amazing to see how consistently over time God has led us in the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association to be where He wants us to be, doing what He wants us to do at moments that only He could have foreseen. We’ve seen that if we will just obey and follow the Lord’s leading, that time after time He shows up in those situations in ways we could not have anticipated,” Parrish adds.
“We’re praying that God will take us this year to the cities that really want evangelism,” says Franklin Graham. “We want to partner with the communities that have a burden for evangelism, and who have a burden for the lost in their city.”
SEE HOW GOD MOVED AROUND THE WORLD IN 2011
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