The city of Hobart, Tasmania, is considered one of the prettiest places on earth. From the historic buildings surrounded by towering mountains to rustic piers dotted with bobbing boats, the city looks like it’s been painted in broad strokes across a welcoming canvas.
But look a bit deeper, and you’ll understand that living in this idyllic movie scene doesn’t bring true hope, happiness or peace. You can see it in the face of the elderly gentleman in the flannel shirt and knit hat. Or in the gray eyes of the teenager wandering down the sidewalk. Or the bustling gait of the local governmental worker in this capital city.
“We’re in probably one of Australia’s most secular cities in many ways, and we’re not going to see change by hoping things happen,” said Pastor David Morse, of the uniquely named Your Church.
As he spoke about the need to come together in unity as the Body of Christ, partnering with churches across Tasmania for the Gospel, Pastor David—who co-chaired the Tasmania Celebration in Hobart—added, “We’re going to see change by standing together and believing, and the unity that actually comes in allowing the Gospel to penetrate and impact our city.”
Will Graham Focuses on the Cross
Will Graham followed in his grandfather’s and father’s footsteps by preaching in Hobart.
Billy Graham stopped in the city during his historic 1959 tour of Australia, a series of record-breaking evangelistic outreaches that is still spoken of with reverence by Australian Christians today, regardless of age.
Franklin Graham followed that by holding a multi-day Festival in 2005.
And now it is Will Graham’s turn to proclaim the same unchanging Gospel message with a new generation.
Prior to the Saturday night event, the evangelist met with local media and shared that he planned to speak on the cross. “There’s no power in my words. I can’t save anybody,” he said. “There’s power in God’s Word. There’s power in the cross. That’s what changes eternity.”
And preaching from the MyState Bank Arena, he wasted little time getting to the topic.
“Jesus died on the cross for everyone. For all Australians, all Tassies [slang for Tasmanians], all Americans—for everybody in the world. The Bible says, ‘For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son,’” said Will Graham.
“No matter what you’ve done or where you come from; that covers all nationalities, all colors. And that’s the single most important message of the cross. God loves you! If there’s anything I want you to remember tonight—God loves you!”
The evangelist went on to share what Christ accomplished on the cross, where He paid the price for our sin and conquered the grave, opening the door for all to have a relationship with God.
As Will Graham wrapped up his message, he gave those in the audience an opportunity to respond and place their faith in Jesus Christ. He wasn’t even done giving the invitation when two young people jumped up from their seats and walked toward the front. A group of teens closely followed.
And then more. And more. Young and old. Healthy and infirm. Parents and children. Dozens upon dozens filled the space in front of the stage, ready to accept Jesus as Savior.
The Impact of the Gospel
Pastor Chris Rubasinghe, also of Your Church, was excited to greet an older gentleman who responded to Will Graham’s invitation.
“He had a very bad family life, with his wife. He got divorced and his children left him, so he’s by himself. So he’s going through a hard time in his life,” Pastor Chris explained, before sharing that the man recommitted his life to Jesus.
“Even though everybody has left him, he said, ‘I welcome Jesus because He’s going to live inside of me.’ He recommitted himself and said, ‘Since Jesus is living in me now, I can face any challenges in life.’ He’s going to talk to his wife and kids, and he’s come back to Jesus again.”
Nearby, Tim Coates of Youth With A Mission (YWAM) was praying with a young husband, whose wife had brought him to the Celebration. “He said, ‘Look, I’ve been trying to do things in my own strength, and it just hasn’t been working. I need some help.”
Tim led the young man as he rededicated his life to the Lord. “He’s leaving the place a lot happier than when he came,” Tim mused. He then considered the potential long-term family impact of the decision, and added, “It’s just one of those stories of the potential for future-generations to come.”
Pastor David Morse was also contemplative about the generational impact of decisions that were made in Hobart on Saturday.
“I heard the kids praying. I heard one child’s voice coming out over the top of all the others,” he said, sharing about a young girl who accepted Christ earlier in the day during a special children’s event called KidzFest.
“That was like, wow! That was a life-changing, eternity-changing, potentially generations-changing and family-changing, prayer. And that’s what it’s all about. It just lifts our faith, and encourages us so much.”
What’s in store for Hobart following the Tasmania Celebration? Only God knows, but the Christian leaders who worked so hard to make this event happen believe something special is taking place.
“We pray for revival. You know, there’s been a lot of resistance this week. We do genuinely believe there’s something special God wants to do here,” said Tim Coates.
“As individual lives are transformed, we believe that in families, communities, our city … God wants to bring transformation. And not just that, but something that’s going to spread to other places. We really do believe for revival, not just a visitation but something that remains and spreads.”
As for Will Graham, he has a few more unique speaking engagements in Hobart, including a Sunday evening evangelistic outreach in an Anglican church, and two opportunities to preach in a prison on Monday, before traveling north to Launceston. There he will continue the Tasmania Celebration with a three-day outreach next weekend, May 27-29.