New Life, Fresh Hope Spring Forth in Huntington, WV

By   •   November 7, 2015

The Tri-State Celebration with Will Graham kicked off Friday night with new life and fresh hope. "Some of you are confused and angry," said Will Graham from the podium. "God doesn't want you to feel hopeless. He wants to give you hope."

When local pastor Randy Henderson got a call last Saturday that his friend Jon from 40 years ago had passed away, he was sad for two reasons: he suffered a personal loss and he was unsure of his friend’s salvation.

“Only God knows the condition of Jon’s heart, but I knew that he was never in church,” Randy said.

But when Randy and his wife, Linda, showed up to counsel at the Tri-State Celebration with Will Graham at Huntington, West Virginia’s Big Sandy Superstore Arena on Friday night, they got a surprise that lifted their spirits.

Randy had performed Jon’s funeral on Tuesday, which provided him an opportunity to invite the family to the Celebration. He told them about the event and gave them the details, but didn’t think they would actually show up. After all, they live 35 miles away in Eastern Kentucky.

Elias Inset
The City Harmonic lead singer Elias Dummer urged Christians in Huntington to be unified for the Gospel: “What would it look like if we rallied together?”

After the crowd was led in worship by The City Harmonic and Aaron Shust, many streamed forward to respond to the Gospel message Will Graham preached from the podium.

As Randy observed the sea of counselors and new believers near the altar, he felt a tap on his shoulder.

It was Jon’s son.

He told Randy that not only did he come with his wife and daughter, but that his daughter was responding to the message and that she was standing somewhere on the floor, speaking with a decision counselor.

“And here is the kicker,” said Randy as he beamed. “When Jon’s son (who is a Christian) pointed out his daughter to me, I saw that she was being counseled by none other than my wife. So when Will said at the beginning of his message, ‘You aren’t here by accident, you’re here by divine appointment,’ it just really brought everything together for me.

“I get excited thinking about how God orchestrated all this. That He even had Will Graham in on it and chose to speak to their hearts to bring their daughter here tonight—even when their grief is fresh.”

Linda added: “And even though Jon’s family grieves for him and they are unsure of where he is now, God gave this family hope by coming here tonight and seeing Jon’s granddaughter trust Jesus with her life. What a gift!”

A New Lease on Life

Aaron Shust is a longtime friend of BGEA. At one point in the evening, he led the crowd in the beloved hymn “Come Thou Fount.”

On the other side of the floor, Susan Gillette sat with tears—tears of joy—streaming down her face after she spoke with a counselor about fears of her own death: “I’ve been ill for a long time, and I know I’m near the end of my life. It’s not dying I am afraid of—it’s dealing with life between now and then.”

After having bouts of lung disease over many years, Susan had put her hope in doctors, only to walk away disappointed.

“If anybody’s going to fix me, it’s going to be God,” she said. “I used to have a lot of peace in my life, but this sickness took it away for me. For years, I couldn’t seem to find it.”

Koneta Gast, the counselor who ministered to Susan, prayed with the tearful woman. Another counselor was drawn to come over and pray with Susan, too. Before the night was over, several people had ministered to Susan, be it through prayer or some encouraging words.

Koneta and Susan exchanged contact information so Koneta could check in with Susan and so Susan could call on Koneta if she needs more prayer or encouragement.

“I feel so much calmer now than I did when I came through the doors of the arena,” said Susan. “Maybe I just needed to hear again what I already know.”

Do you have new life and peace in Jesus? Find peace with God today.

For many months leading up to this weekend, local Christians have prayed for Susan Gillette (pictured) and others who need hope that only the Gospel can bring.