“Let them give glory to the Lord and declare His praise in the islands.”
—Isaiah 42:12, HCSB
In Puerto Rico, Christianity as a religion is considered part of the culture. And though more than 95 percent of the people on this Caribbean island call themselves Christians—poverty, crime and drugs are epidemic.
Last month, Franklin Graham shared the Good News with Puerto Ricans at the Festival de Esperanza (Festival of Hope) in San Juan, in the same stadium where his father, Billy Graham, preached 22 years ago at the San Juan Global Mission.
Carlos was one of nearly 33,000 people who attended the three-day Festival de Esperanza.
He had thought of himself as a Christian for as long as he could remember but had never committed his life to Christ.
While he was using drugs and partying to fill an emptiness inside, his sister started praying for him and his wife. Carlos’ sister was a new believer and knew how a relationship with Christ could dramatically alter their lives.
A year later, a friend invited Carlos and his wife to hear Franklin Graham preach the Gospel at the Festival.
Carlos said no at first but then was convicted about his marriage and how he had failed his wife. He thought a good sermon might help and went to the Festival with his wife and sister.
When Franklin Graham asked the crowd, “Where are you tonight? Are you spiritually empty?”—Carlos started searching his heart.
He felt a longing for God rising up from deep inside, near the empty hole in his heart.
At the same time, he felt burdened by his sin when he thought about how far he had run from God.
Carlos lifted his heart to Christ.
“The preacher’s entire message showed me a complete contrast to my life of sin,” he said.
When Franklin Graham gave the invitation to accept Jesus, Carlos and his wife walked to the front of the arena with hundreds of others. His sister was right there with them.
The couple asked God to forgive their sins and come into their hearts as Lord and Savior.
And they were not alone.
More than 1,000 people put their faith in Jesus Christ during the three-day event.
Another 14,000-plus people from 49 countries watched the Festival online, and of those, more than 300 indicated decisions for Christ.
After talking and praying with a counselor, Carlos stood arm-in-arm with his wife and talked about his decision.
As a new creation in Christ, he was sure he had made the right choice. “I am sick of the life I have lived. I will not regret this!”