Opposition Turns to Opportunity for Good News in Vancouver

By   •   March 4, 2017

More than 750 made a decision for Christ on Friday night.

They say any press is good press.

And Friday night in Vancouver, Canada, that old adage rang true yet again as more than 12,000 people crammed inside the Rogers Arena for the opening night of the Greater Vancouver Festival of Hope with Franklin Graham.

In the weeks leading up to the event, a modest number of pastors protested by signing a letter determined to keep Franklin Graham and the true message of hope out of their city.

But God had other plans.

“Just remember,” Franklin Graham told the 750-plus attendees who covered the arena floor after the invitation to accept Christ. “God loves you. God loves you.”

It was the fourth time Franklin Graham repeated those words, matter-of-factly delivered with love and a dash of conviction. And it came on a night where he stood firm on the Gospel message, including biblical truth that has become controversial.

“Every word of the Bible is true. Every word,” he said 17 minutes into his sermon from Daniel 5. “God, first of all, gave us sex. And sex is a wonderful part of our life, but God said it’s between a man and a woman.”

That truth drew one of the biggest applauses of the night.

“You say, ‘Franklin, society and culture up here in Canada, we accept all kinds of things,’” Franklin Graham continued. “Well, sin is a big deal to God.”

The Good From the Bad

Admittedly, some of the 400-plus churches involved in the Festival wondered if recent headlines might keep the seats cold. But, their faith was renewed as an international crowd packed the arena up to the rafters.

“It’s free advertising,” said Ari Ukkonen, a Festival counselor who also lives next door to the Rogers Arena. “What people meant for bad, God used for good.

“Any news that is advertising is good advertising, right?” he continued. “Obviously, it was a lot of prayer from a lot of people.”

But, what about all the negative publicity?

“It puts [the ministry] on the forefront of people’s mind,” Ukkonen explained. “People hear about it and search social media to see what it’s about. They start thinking about it and then, the Holy Spirit works in their hearts.”

While a group of about 20 protestors gathered peacefully with signs at the corner outside the arena, more than 21,000 people around the globe watched Franklin Graham’s message of hope online in 38 countries. Inside, the floor at the Rogers Arena was so crowded, several attempts had to be made to shuffle people closer together to make room for those pouring down the aisles.

Beginning a new life in Christ with discipleship materials in hand.

A Message for All

Phil Wickham and Hillsong Young and Free were the headline bands. But an hour before the doors opened, many were standing outside simply because they had heard about the Festival in the news and were curious as to what this Franklin Graham was going to say.

“Franklin Graham is a sinner,” he told the crowd in his message. “I’m no different than anybody in this room.”

Including Gabriel. The 20-year-old was invited by a group of friends, and Ukkonen talked with him about beginning a new relationship with Christ. Gabriel was one of more than 350 over age 19 who prayed with Franklin Graham to make a commitment.

“It was the first time I’ve ever done anything like that,” Ukkonen said, riding high on his first counseling experience.

With his zeal to share his faith will also come opposition, but Friday’s event shows how God can move in spite of.

Calvary Chapel Albuquerque Pastor Skip Heitzig, who led morning devotions with BGEA staff and the local committee in Vancouver, reminded the group, “Jesus said preach the Gospel to everyone. … But there’s consequences to that command.”

As culture continues to deviate from biblical truth, standing on the Word of God will be seen as even more radical. Some may soon try to marginalize it as “fake news.”

“We have just a short window of opportunity,” Franklin Graham said. “We have three nights, but they’re going to go fast. Let’s just pray that His name would be lifted up throughout this city.”

The Greater Vancouver Festival of Hope continues through Sunday. >> Watch each night live.

  • Saturday at 7 p.m. PST/10 p.m. EST featuring The Afters, For King & Country, and more.
  • Sunday at 6 p.m. PST/9 p.m. EST featuring Michael W. Smith, Ellie Holcomb, and more.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published but you will receive our next BGEA ministry update. You can opt out of future emails at any time.


  1. hidden mountain says:

    And darkness flees …
    The Gospel has been proclaimed in the city of sin. Let every knee bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Or, that Yeshua ha Meshiach is YHWH, if you’re into the Old Testament. Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.

    1. Joy says:

      Jesus has always been God. God has always been the Holy Trinity. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Before heaven and earth were created, it was just the Trinity.



  3. Carolina Diaz says:

    You are such an inspiration for us in France! We know God does something special in our country and revival is coming!! Blessings

  4. Charles Murungi says:

    This is amazing. God’s saving power is still available.

  5. Dina Wood says:

    Is this the beginning is of The Billy Graham crusades?

    1. BGEA says:

      Hi Dina,

      We’re not sure we understand your question. Can you rephrase it?

  6. Keng yap says:


  7. Max Filen says:

    Franklin praise the Lord for your steadfast commitment in taking the Word of God to the individual Cities in the USA. We continue to pray that hearts and ears are opened to bring forth life and light to the hearers, that men woman and children turn to Jesus Christmas to bring forth the revival that us so needed in these last days. May the Lord continue to bless you and the team as you labor for Him in His Vineyard,

  8. June Foote says:

    Praise God for all that happened Friday night. I pray that God will continue to touch the hearts of the people at the festival. My prayers are with you all. Jesus is Lord of Lords and King of kings! Praise God! Amen!

  9. Marilynn Weisser says:

    A miracle. May Franklin and his team continue to e in souls for Christ in Vancouver. So happy he is here in Canada after all they have done to rally Americans to action. Vancouver is a beautiful city and all of Canada needs this type of preaching. Thanks be to God. God Bless Canada and God bless BGEA.
    In Jesus name Amen.
    The best need to wake up to in Canada.

  10. Laura Kontinakis says:

    Praising God for the lives through the Holy Spirits gentle calling and conviction that are responding. Just covered you in prayer that God would call forth each person and they would respond to the Savior. That protection would surround you and that people would in great numbers step out to accept Jesus as Lord and be freed from their sin. Amen