When Will Graham heard he would be preaching on the weekend the world was supposed to end, he realized God had given him a unique opportunity to present the truth of the Gospel.
“It’s not every day that they predict the end of the world is going to happen while you preach,” Graham said with a laugh. Then, turning serious, he added, “The truth is, we never know when Christ will return. It could be in the next moment.”
That’s exactly why it is so important that we preach the Gospel and tell others about Christ, Graham added.
“I am sure there are people who came out because maybe they thought the end of the world was coming and they wanted to get right before God—they never knew their life was forever going to be changed,” he said on Sunday morning.
Lives indeed were changed during the May 20-22 Jersey Shore Celebration that featured Gospel messages by Graham, and music from Matthew West, FLAME, the Newsboys and Chasen. Close to 14,000 attended the three-day Celebration; more than 880 made decisions to turn their lives over to Jesus for the first time or recommit their lives to Him.
At the start of the Celebration on Friday night, artist Matthew West whose popular song “History” is a concert staple, prayed that the weekend would be “history in the making.”
His prayer—and the prayers of local pastors and Christians in two counties—were answered in a resounding way.
Since 2008, church leaders in Monmouth and Ocean Counties have been praying fervently for a move of Holy Spirit to bring revival to the area. “These prayer gatherings have crossed denominational, ethnic and geographical lines to bring unity in reaching out to the lost,” said Terry Wilken, the director of the Jersey Shore Celebration.
“This weekend,” said Pastor Owen Alston, “is the culmination of all we have prayed for. Now our prayer is that we can effectively disciple all who came forward.”
Wes Lindquist, the vice chair of the Pastor’s Committee, said, “Tonight is the first finish line. After today, the crucial work of follow up begins. We want to make sure all the inquirers get connected to local churches, which is the next finish line.”
Of course, no event on the Jersey Shore could escape humorous references to the reality show of the same name. “My prayer is that after this weekend,” said Lindquist, “people will use the term ‘Jesus Shore’ when they speak of the Jersey Shore.”
But this part of New Jersey already had strong ties to Christianity. Ocean Grove was founded in 1869 as a Victorian-era camp meeting site. The Great Auditorium, which was built in 1894, has reverberated with many a thunderous preacher’s voice, including that of Will’s grandfather, Billy Graham, who spoke here when he was 36, Will’s current age.
This weekend, the third generation of Graham evangelists “made history” in New Jersey with his powerful messages, particularly the final one: “The end of the world didn’t happen yesterday,” Will said Sunday night, “but Jesus is returning. God will bring this present world to a close. Time will come to an end.
“Are you ready to stand before God?”
Are you sure of your salvation?
Follow the Steps to Peace online to recommit your life to Jesus.