On Saturday, September 18, the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina, opened its doors to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Day for the first time.
“It was spectacular, a more than successful event that filled the Hispanic population with enthusiasm and showed the heart of our initiative to build new bridges of connection with this community,” observed Chris Swanson, vice president of Hispanic Initiatives for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA). “We were able to sense a very special atmosphere, full of enthusiasm and joy. Several families expressed how much this event meant to them.”
On Saturday morning, tents were set up and ready to welcome more than 700 visitors who had registered. Event organizers, volunteers, Spanish-speaking tour guides and chaplains circled up beforehand to go over event logistics and pray.
Just as the heat of the day began to rise, several families of Hispanic origin began to make their way to the registration tent. Some wore traditional clothing from their countries to show pride in their roots, filling the celebration with smiles and bright colors. Children captivated the eyes and hearts of people.
The young ones made their way to a tent set up especially for them, where they colored and painted, while the teenagers worked on a giant Jenga game and laughed when it collapsed loudly.
“It is a great blessing that so many Hispanic nations celebrate their holidays in the same month, because this opens the door for people from different countries to come together to celebrate, and being believers, to praise Jesus together,” said Carlos Suárez, a young Mexican who attended the event.
Worship and a Powerful Testimony
Later in the morning, Raúl Sánchez struck a chord on the accordion. “Today I want to tell you that I’m feeling good, because with my Christ I go singing along,” he sang in Spanish.
The people stood up and began to sing and dance in joyful praise to the Lord.
One of the most moving moments was when singer Daniel Calveti shared his powerful testimony. God miraculously brought him back to life eight hours after doctors pronounced him dead, following a long bout of meningitis during his first months of life.
“They could find no signs of meningitis or damage to any of my organs. The doctors said, ‘God must have a plan for this child’s life because he is a miracle,’” Calveti shared.
The first round of worship closed with a deep time of prayer, in which Calveti led those present to ask God to use each of the families represented there for His glory.
“Just as the Graham family prayed that God would use a Graham to carry the Gospel, so pray for your family this day,” Calveti said.
Yoly Pacheco, a talented ventriloquist, got the attention of the audience with her presentation of the Gospel geared towards children, and managed to make young and old laugh with her humorous show.
“The varied talents of Raúl, Yoly and Daniel were the perfect mix for God to work in people’s lives, and most importantly, to reconcile them with God,” said Angel Jordán, director of Hispanic Initiatives at BGEA.
The Journey of Faith Tour
Soon, people began to head inside of the Library to take The Journey of Faith tour—accompanied by their Spanish-speaking guides—to learn about how God used Billy Graham to bring the Gospel to the nations.
“I believe that the way Daniel Calveti presented his testimony paved the way for many to see the power of this God that Billy Graham preached about,” said Suárez. “At least that helped me a lot, because after listening to this testimony, I went on the tour, and it was a great inspiration for me to see what the Gospel that Billy Graham preached throughout his life really means.
“It was amazing to see this connection between the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the Hispanic community. It was very special to see entire Hispanic families learning about the life and ministry of Billy Graham.”
“I was able to talk with one person who after the concert was over, was asking for the chaplains because he needed a shoulder to cry on,” said Jordán. “He needed someone who would listen to him because he wanted to return to God’s ways.
“Undoubtedly the presence of God could be felt in the midst of this celebration.”
Susan Cruz attended the event with her entire family.
“We had already taken the tour of the Library on other occasions because we admire Mr. Billy Graham so much, but this time was very special. This time my whole family was able to understand because everything was in Spanish. We felt welcome at the Library.
“We hope they keep doing more events for the Hispanic community, because for us it also means having a space to meet other believers.”
The celebration ended in the afternoon with a memorable moment when Raúl Sánchez, Yoly Pacheco and Daniel Calveti went up to sing several worship songs together that are very significant for Spanish-speaking evangelical churches.