Will Graham Japan Event Bridges Generations

By   •   March 13, 2014

Will Graham and his interpreter in Fukuoka

Prior to standing before a few dozen pastors at a luncheon in Fukuoka, Japan, Thursday, Will Graham received a cryptic email from his mom. In it was a photo of him as a child—his brothers, Roy and Edward, on each side sitting in the laps of his grandparents, Billy and Ruth Bell Graham.

“I didn’t understand why she sent it until this afternoon,” Will said.

Billy Graham with his grandsons
Billy and Ruth Bell Graham with grandsons Roy, Will, and Edward in 1980

The picture is from 1980, the same year his grandfather first visited Fukuoka to preach the Gospel. Now, more than three decades later, Will is back in the city to do the same at the Celebration of Hope, March 15-16.

Celebration Chairman Rev. Yokota Takeyuki also stood with a keepsake of his own—a poster from that 1980 Fukuoka Crusade. He served on the finance committee back then. Now, Takeyuki’s son, who was a small child at the time, stands alongside his father helping with Will’s event.

“It’s neat to see how God works through generations,” Will said.

Planning for the 1980 Crusade was very similar to how it is today. Takeyuki remembered rallying support from churches and promoting the event. They also got a lineup of popular artists to perform at the Crusade. The same took place for Will’s upcoming Celebration.

Rev. Yokota Takeyuki
Rev. Yokota Takeyuki shows a poster from the 1980 Fukuoka Crusade

Among this weekend’s performers is Lena Maria. Born with no arms and one leg, her testimony has impressed countless Japanese, especially young people.

And local pastors are hoping for that generational impact to continue in Fukuoka and throughout Japan where, according to Executive Chairman Rev. Irie Kikuo, the average age of a pastor is 61.

“Soon those pastors are going to retire. This means churches are in very, very critical positions,” he said.

The Will Graham Celebration of Hope has been eight years in the making. In 2006, 45 pastors, including Rev. Kikuo, gathered and began praying for BGEA to return to Fukuoka.

“We feel like we are living in the days of Noah,” he said. “Drinking, partying, destroying buildings … so many Japanese don’t have true hope in their hearts.”

Lena Maria
Swedish artist Lena Maria sings at Thursday’s luncheon

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has visited Japan several times, bringing the Gospel to Tokyo, Okinawa, Osaka, Sendai, Fukushima, and now twice to Fukuoka. Franklin Graham will also return to the country later in May to preach in Sapporo.

Will reminded the group of pastors they never know how one message can change lives for generations to come. He noted that had it not been for a Billy Graham Crusade, he might have never met his wife Kendra.

Will’s in-laws met after they made decisions for Christ while watching separate Crusades on television in the 1960s.

“They led their one daughter to Christ. And I married their daughter,” Will said. “My life has been impacted because a man and a woman gave their life to Christ.”

Will Graham in prayer
Will Graham bows his head in prayer with Fukuoka pastors

“What takes place this weekend is not just this weekend only,” he continued. “For those who call upon Christ, they’re going to start to marry other Christian men and women, and they’re going to raise their families in a Christian home. And then they’re going to have grandchildren that can call on Christ, just like in my family.”

Will likened the work in Fukuoka to God’s promise to Abraham that the number of stars in the sky would be his seed.

“When the clouds clear, we can see the stars here in Fukuoka and those are going to be the number of people to come to Christ for years to come,” Will said. “By faith we can see that.”

Follow updates from the Will Graham Celebration of Hope in Fukuoka, Japan, on the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Also, visit billygraham.org for more stories from the event March 15-16.

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. Janet Sumner says:

    Praying for the great work that the Reverend BillyGraham has done.

  2. CYNTHIA JOHN says:

    Keeping Rev. Will Graham and his team in our prayers. As God led Rev. Billy Graham, Almighty God will surely lead Rev. Will Graham. Amen!

  3. Nancy Crum says:

    It is AWESOME to see the way the Lord works His plan! Praying many souls will be won to Jesus. And it is awesome to see Will follow in the footsteps of Jesus first of all, then his grandfather and father. May God’s blessing continue to be upon them all!!

  4. REBECCA DAVIS says:


  5. Pius Akator says:

    My heart is filled joy as I read about this great trans generational blessing of taking the gospel to the world. We are praying with you. God bless Grandpa Billy , Dad Franklin and Brother Will. Amen

  6. sandra says:

    I’ll be praying for hearts to be soften to hear the gospel message this week-end . God Bless You for continuing what your Grandfather had started over 30 years ago .

  7. Pst david femi-alade says:

    Thank God for the great work God has been doing n will still do this wkend,I join my faith with your for great generational impact n harvest in Jesus name,amen

  8. Okhiria Hope says:

    Sir, you are doing great, this is the kind of opportunity am looking for, to be able to go round the world with the gospel. but am in Nigeria and if you want to I can join you in this, because it is what I do. try and reach so that I can join you. I really want to use my youthful age to do this work, expecially as a young girl. thanks

  9. Philip Crain says:

    I’ll be praying.

  10. Joan Ockwig says:

    God bless you all for the great work you are doing!