On a breezy morning in Chennai, soon after arriving in India, Franklin Graham shared his thoughts about the upcoming Hope Festival: “It is an honor to be here,” he told our team. “I have a real passion for the people of this great nation.”
Franklin’s first visit to India was in 1976 with Dr. Bob Pierce, the founder of Samaritan’s Purse. “He gave me my first glimpse of this great country,” said Franklin. “Bob Pierce made an impression on my heart when he said, ‘You can have all the missionaries you want, but with the huge population of India, God is going to have to provide some other way to break through so we can reach this nation for Christ.’
“With advances in technology over the years,” Franklin continued, “we can now take the Gospel into areas we could never go before. We have seen how God has opened doors for the preaching of his Word. This is why we have come this time. It is to preach the Gospel – the apostle Paul said I am not ashamed of the Gospel. We have come in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Franklin is following in the steps of his father, Billy Graham, who held a Crusade in Chennai (then Madras) in 1956. Mr. Graham returned to the city in 1977.
“My father remembers well his visits to this great nation,” said Franklin. “He has always had a burden for the people of India and a great love for the people of India.”
Local pastors gathered in the afternoon and as each spoke, they all agreed that the Chennai Hope Festival is unprecedented – in terms of teamwork between their congregations, and the training and followup provided by the BGEA.
“We are thankful that Franklin Graham meets social needs but also that he is taking the Gospel to the downtrodden,” said Rev. D. Mohan, Festival Executive General Chairman. “India is the greatest harvest field in the world. We pray millions of souls will be added to the Kingdom this week.”
“It is God’s time for India,” said Dr. Paul Dhinakaran, who leads Jesus Calls Ministries. “Franklin has sown to meet the needs of people around the world. We pray during this Festival he will reap all that he has sown.”