God’s beautiful handiwork can be seen in the bamboo thickets and powerful waterfalls that make up Puerto Rico’s rain forest.
And just as unexpected rain showers make the lush greenery even more refreshing, so the Gospel message refreshed many lost souls at the Festival de Esperanza (or Festival of Hope) with Franklin Graham in San Juan over the weekend.
Though a tropical paradise, Puerto Rico still has its share of economic struggles, unemployment, addictions and an underlying spiritual battle for people’s hearts.
Upon his arrival to the Caribbean island, Franklin Graham told local reporters that Puerto Rico needs to ask God for help. “I encourage the people of Puerto Rico to stand in prayer for their island,” he later posted on his Facebook page.
Prayer has been central in preparation for the event, with over 1,300 churches fervently praying and many of their members fasting for the past 40 days.
There was much prayer and rejoicing throughout the three-day Festival as nearly 33,000 people attended the event, and more than 1,000 put their faith in Jesus Christ.
Another 14,000-plus people from 49 countries watched the Festival online, and of those, more than 300 indicated decisions for Christ.
Preaching from Mark 10 about how Jesus gave blind Bartimaeus his sight, Franklin Graham told the crowd that Jesus can open their eyes to the truth.
“Some of you here tonight, you’re flying through your life blind,” Franklin Graham said.
He talked of being spiritually blind, and urged Puerto Ricans to do as Bartimaeus did and call on the name of Jesus.
He asked, “Is there a little voice inside of you saying this is what I must do?”
One man in the crowd, named Jesús, knew in his heart that he needed God to help him change his lifestyle.
Constantly surrounded by temptation, Jesús said he knew he needed something bigger than himself to help him change.
He was listening as Franklin Graham told the audience, “That same Jesus that was passing through Jericho, He’s here tonight.”
Like Bartimaeus, Jesús too called on the Lord Jesus Christ. Wearing a Michael Jordan T-shirt, the former homeless man repented of his sins and prayed to ask the Lord Jesus to be his Savior.
“I felt goosebumps when I thought about all the things that had happened to me in my life,” he said, sharing he was even on the brink of death once, after falling from a five-story window.
And like Bartimaeus, he also needs God’s mercy. Jesús knows it’s not going to be easy but does have a newfound hope.
He plans to start looking for God through reading the Bible and talking to Him through prayer. “I know it won’t happen overnight,” Jesús said, but wants to start by attending church regularly.
For people like Jesús, the body of Christ in Puerto Rico—like the rain forest—is refreshing to parched souls.
Now that the event is over, local Christians will come alongside those who responded to the Gospel over the weekend. People like Jesús.
“I just want to start being obedient,” he said. “I’m willing to do my part for my life to change with the Lord.”