When Franklin Graham was a college student in Boone, N.C. he met a family from Latvia who shared with him their love for the country and for the city of Riga. They told him, “Franklin, we hope one day you’ll have a chance to visit our home.”
Now, 35 years later, Graham has arrived in Riga to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Speaking at a press conference this afternoon, Graham explained to local media the vision behind the Ceribas Festival (Festival of Hope), Nov. 5-7.
“The Gospel means Good News,” said Graham. “It’s the good news that God has provided salvation through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. We have over 500 churches that are participating, churches from various denominations who are putting aside their theological differences to join together to work for one cause and that is to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with their countrymen.”
Graham said that as an evangelist, he is a herald, “someone who heralds the truth … not my truth, God’s truth.”
The world in which we live has many problems, said Graham. “In my country, we have just come through this week what we call a mid-term election. Many politicians were asked to leave office. New politicians are now coming in but the problems that we face in the world today are the same. There is no human being that can fix the problems we face. What we need is a change in our hearts. We need a heart transplant and that can only happen through faith in the person of Jesus Christ.”
Graham told the media, “This is the message that we are here to preach this week and every night we want to give every person that has come to receive Christ by faith into their heart. Jesus Christ can change a person’s life instantly. He can change a country. He can change your heart. He changed my heart when I was 22 years old. I gave my life to Christ and He changed the whole direction of my life and we hope this week that we will see many hundreds, and possibly thousands, of your countrymen put their faith and trust in Christ.”
When asked if there are spiritual differences between Latvia and other countries, Graham responded, “Every country is different. There is uniqueness with each group of people, but the human heart is the same. People want to know, ‘Is there a God? If there is a God, does He know who I am? Am I important to Him with the world being such a big place and I’m just one person? Does God know my name?’
“Yes, God does know our name,” Graham said, “and He loves each and every one of us. Latvia is a beautiful country. You have a rich history. There have been wonderful things that have taken place in this country, wonderful people that have come from this country that have come to America. Our country has been blessed because of Latvia.
“But there’s a sense of hopelessness with many Latvian people,” he added. “Whatever expectations they have, for whatever reason, life hasn’t turned out as they thought it would. I want the people of Latvia to know that God knows their name and God loves each and every one and that Christ died for our sins.”
In conclusion, Graham said, “Many people think that secularism—we see this in the West—is the answer. It just creates a bigger emptiness in a person’s life. Politics cannot fill the vacuum in a person’s life. Only God Himself can fill this vacuum that’s inside of us and that can only be filled when we come into a right relationship with God.
“I believe many people today in Latvia are looking for this… searching for this. That’s why the churches have come together. The churches are concerned and so this is a united effort for all of us coming together to tell this beautiful nation about God’s Son, Jesus Christ, who can make a change in a person’s life instantly and can give them eternal hope.”
Do You Need God’s Love in Your Life?
Follow the Step to Peace online to learn about Jesus or recommit your life to Him.