When Pastor Eddie Lee asked his congregation Sunday who plans to attend this weekend’s Franklin Graham Festival of Hope, hundreds of hands went in the air. And they plan to bring their friends.
Lee is senior pastor of Harvest Christian Church in El Paso, the same city where the Festival will take place. He’s inviting people he has known for years, but has also handed invitations to near strangers.
Like the cashier at Cracker Barrel where Lee recently enjoyed a meal. While paying his bill, he invited the young woman to the Festival.
“I’ve received some very favorable responses,” he said. Many people have already heard about the Festival through billboards, TV or the radio.
Marcos Barraza is operations director of KVER 91.1, a local Spanish Christian radio station that has promoted the Festival. He said a lot of Spanish speakers are “embracing the Festival,” and he’s happy to see English-speaking churches work closely with Spanish-speaking churches.
Barraza is on the Festival’s leadership team and has invited friends and family to the event. He is particularly praying for Spanish speakers who have immigrated to the United States.
“A lot of them come here for the American dream,” he said, which is good, but sometimes they get so wrapped up in work that they neglect their spiritual needs.
Pastor Lee has also been praying for the event. He is co-chair of the Festival’s executive committee and has seen more than 200 churches and 1,000 counselors—including some from his own church—rally together to bring a message of eternal life to their city.
That message will be heard in two languages—English and Spanish—and Festival coordinators expect many people to cross the border from Mexico to hear it. Lee foresees few challenges with the dual language Festival, saying people in the area are used to the blending of two cultures.
The city is also home to a lot of young men and women in the military—one group that Lee hopes this weekend’s Festival will reach.
Invitations to the well-publicized Festival have extended well beyond city limits, too, with mailed invites going out within 100 miles of El Paso.
After pastoring for 46 years, Lee said he’s especially excited to see so many youth getting involved. Hundreds of youth have attended FM419 training to help teach them how to share their faith in Christ.
“We feel very confident that we’ll have a lot of youth on Saturday night,” Lee said about the first night of the Festival.
On Lee’s personal invite list is several of his neighbors. He has invited many of them to his church over the years, and some of them have come. Some are even members of his church now.
But not all have responded to his invitation, and he’s eager to see if they will come to the Festival.
“I feel like they are a personal responsibility of mine,” he said.
Lee has been delighted to see all the church cooperation in preparation for the Festival and looks forward to seeing those churches—including his—“step up to the plate” to disciple new believers after this weekend.
To watch the Festival live, click here. The Festival begins at 7:30 p.m. EDT on Saturday and Sunday.