As Franklin Graham stood on the balcony overlooking southern California Friday, flanked by English and Spanish-speaking media standing side-by-side, his bilingual outdoor press conference gave a flavorful taste of what’s to come over the next 48-plus hours.
“People are wanting to know what kind of hope they have,” Graham said.
On this weekend, that hope is pronounced “Esperanza.”
As in Festival de Esperanza, the first of its kind in the U.S.
“I believe that hope is in the Lord Jesus Christ,” he said.
Embarking on what many believe to be a new avenue to reach souls for Christ, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association is hosting the first Spanish-speaking Festival in the United States on Saturday and Sunday at the 27,000-seat Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., just south of Los Angeles.
And while this bilingual event is different than any other event in the the 60-plus-year history of the BGEA, the message will not be lost in translation.
“The message we have come to preach is not my message but it’s God’s message,” Graham said. “My hope and my prayer is that the people of Los Angeles will put their faith and trust in God’s son, Jesus Christ.”
So why Los Angeles?
When you consider that 47 percent of Los Angeles County is Hispanic and that Spanish is the main language spoken in 40 percent of the homes, it makes perfect sense.
“This has been on our hearts for a number of years,” said Graham. “It’s an extremely important segment of our society. It’s one of the fastest growing populations in this country.
“Hispanic pastors have been burdened for their communities, that they may come to know Jesus Christ.”
The event begins with Festikids at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, followed by the Saturday night’s Festival de Esperanza at 7 p.m. and Sunday’s event at 5 p.m. Graham’s message will be translated into Spanish, while most of the musicians will also be performing in Spanish.
“When we talked about the program, I told our guys that we are going to do this all in Spanish,” Graham said. “This is for the Hispanic churches and our team is 100 percent behind it.”
And if this model works?
“We are praying that if this is something that God wants to do, that we could do this in other cities,” Graham said. “San Antonio, Houston, Fresno … areas of the country with large Hispanic populations.
“And of course Miami is another city that has such a huge population but reaches throughout all of Latin America.”
But first things first. The effort in Los Angles has included many months of planning and prayer and Graham is pleading with fellow Believers everywhere to cover the Hispanic communities in the L.A. area with prayer.
“We can not accomplish this without prayer,” Graham said. “My hope and desire is that there would be many hundreds and possibly thousands that put their hope and trust in Jesus Christ, God’s son.
“Pray for me and (translator) Galo (Vasquez) as we stand behind the pulpit, that the Gospel will be clear, that people will understand that Christ died for our sins and change them instantly.”
Please join us in praying for the Festival de Esperanza in Los Angeles this weekend. You can see how God will move by watching a live webcast from the Home Depot Center each evening. Find out more »