This week, Franklin Graham is in the busy city of Sapporo, Japan, while his son, Will, makes his way around the outback of Broken Hill, Australia. They may be on two different continents, but both will have one purpose in mind as they stand to preach the Gospel.
“The message is the same,” no matter where they preach, Viktor Hamm, BGEA’s vice president of Crusades, said.
It’s the timeless message of God’s love that has pierced hearts and changed lives for centuries, a powerful message no matter who’s at the podium.
Hamm said the father-son duo keep in touch while traveling. And this week, with Franklin Graham’s Hokkaido Festival of Hope in Sapporo and Will Graham’s Reality Celebration in Broken Hill—both May 9-11—the pair will also have the prayer support of thousands of people in both countries and around the world. And with the difference in time zones, the two are only an hour and a half apart.
Like his father, Will Graham keeps a busy schedule, but this is his first trip to Broken Hill.
“Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to visit Australia several times, either to preach or to meet with pastors and leaders,” Will Graham said before his trip. “I love the people of Australia. I’m looking forward to visiting Broken Hill for the first time to share how we can find purpose and meaning in life. …”
While BGEA believes in using every means possible to spread the Gospel—TV, radio and social media among others—sharing that message in person remains a powerful form of communication, Hamm said.
Many people around the world have heard the Gospel, he continued, but have yet to really grasp it. Sometimes, it takes hearing that message multiple times before it penetrates people’s hearts. Hamm cites Isaiah 55:11, saying God’s Word doesn’t return void.
“Every time the person (hears) the Gospel, it leaves something,” he said. The Gospel either moves a person to give his life to Christ, or it gives him an opportunity to reject Christ.
Both Broken Hill, Australia, and Sapporo, Japan, have few Christians. Broken Hill, an isolated mining city in New South Wales, has nine churches and one full-time pastor. Sapporo has many churches—135 involved in the Festival of Hope—but with an average of about 12-15 members each. Only a small fraction of the Japanese population claims Christianity.
But Hamm says churches in both cities are accomplishing a lot by coming together, even in the small, middle-of-nowhere city of Broken Hill.
“Some of the greatest mission fields are the smallest cities because they are overlooked quite often,” Hamm said. “They are very receptive because a small group of believers prays, prays and prays for God to do something.”
With all that prayer, and with the powerful message of the Gospel, Hamm has no doubt that people will respond to Christ in both Sapporo and Broken Hill.
Or as he said: “The question is not, ‘How many people will respond to the Gospel?’ The question is, ‘Where will those people who respond be five years down the road?’”
Once the Festival and Celebration are over, he said, churches follow up with new believers, coming alongside them as they grow in their faith. Those who give their lives to Christ are not only “pulled out of a depth of sin,” but go on to impact co-workers, neighbors, friends and family.
And, as Hamm says, “That’s huge.”
Watch the Franklin Graham Festival from Sapporo, Japan, online this weekend at BillyGraham.org/Japan. The web stream begins at 9:00 p.m. ET Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening.