Thursday through Saturday, the forecast in Cúcuta, Colombia, called for rain. But each day, for a handful of hours during the Festival of Hope with Franklin Graham—and the kids’ event leading up to it—the clouds held back.
As soon as the Festival ended Saturday night, the rain began, along with thunder and lightning.
God’s hand has been evident in every detail of this Festival over the past six months, from pinning down an event date to securing space to training counselors. Just the fact that the massive undertaking came together in such a short amount of time is evidence enough. Add to that the location—a city that’s ballooned with Venezuelan migrants facing economic crisis—and the logistics of transporting everyone who wanted to come.
Saturday, an estimated 42,500 people came to the final night of the Festival, bringing total attendance to more than 94,000 for the two-day event, plus 22,000 who came to FestiKids on Thursday for a kid-centric evangelistic event.
All were within earshot of some much-needed Good News.
“We see economic problems in the world, political problems in the world, we see wars, we see hunger, and we wonder if there is a God and if He cares about us,” Franklin addressed the crowd a day before Easter.
Franklin assured them God cares more than they could know. So much that He came to earth in the form of Jesus Christ to die for our sins on the cross. But He didn’t stay dead.
“He’s not still hanging on the cross,” Franklin said. “He’s alive. He’s here tonight in this stadium. And if you’re willing to call on His name and trust Him tonight, God will forgive you of your sins. You can have peace tonight with Jesus Christ.”
Cúcuta pastor Edgar Miller couldn’t get over what he was seeing Saturday as he looked around General Santander Stadium where the Festival was held. What really got him was so many churches from various denominations uniting for one purpose, “in one voice,” to share Jesus with their friends, family and neighbors.
“It’s even better than I expected,” he said.
Miller saw people he knows come forward to receive Christ during the event. It was a beautiful sight, he said, adding, “That’s why we’re here.”
There were also some unexpected, but just as joyous, moments. One volunteer counselor went into labor Saturday night as she was talking with someone who came forward in response to Christ. She was taken to the hospital and had a healthy baby in her arms not long afterwards.
While the counselor had a physical birth, many others experienced spiritual birth into the family of God.
Fourteen-year-old Angie Pabón came to FestiKids on Thursday and the Festival Friday, but wasn’t sure what do to with what she was hearing until it clicked for her on Saturday. She walked to the front of the stage with her family and told a counselor named Glency Blanco that she was ready to begin her life with Jesus.
It was two days shy of Glency’s own spiritual birthday. She decided to follow Jesus on April 22, 2018.
Glency’s son Diego, also 14, was the one who led his mother to Christ this time last year. Their family had just moved from Venezuela and settled near a church when her son announced he was going to start attending on Sundays. Glency saw a change in him and decided to join her son.
She’s seen how faith brought peace to their relationship and other areas of their lives. That’s what she wants for all who committed their lives to Christ this weekend.
Pastor Miller said the next step is for churches like his to disciple those who opened their hearts to Christ and show them what it means to live for Him.
That’s why Franklin encouraged everyone who began a new life with Jesus Saturday to go to church the next day and “tell a pastor what you did here today.”
It would be the perfect way to celebrate Easter.
Please join local churches in prayer as they commit to following up with new Christians and walk with them through all the future holds.