Passionate prayer. Humble unity. Boldness in proclaiming the Gospel. Hope in Christ Jesus.
These were the themes that echoed time and again in recent weeks as two 2020 Will Graham Celebrations were announced in Tifton, Georgia, and Fairmont, West Virginia.
The Tiftarea Celebration with Will Graham will take place at the University of Georgia–Tifton Campus Conference Center, March 20-22, 2020. The Mountain State Celebration with Will Graham will follow one month later, April 24-26, at Fairmont State University’s Feaster Center.
As more than 160 people packed into the lobby area of the University of Georgia–Tifton Campus Conference Center, there was a buzz of anticipation in the air. They had come with hearts heavy for their communities, and with a palpable excitement that God was preparing to do something big across South Georgia.
“It’s time to go all in. Not one of us is guaranteed our next breath of life,” said John Cass, executive director of Will Graham Celebrations. “It’s not just about this time that’s coming in March. It’s about now, because your friends, your neighbors, your family members need Jesus now. God’s going to do something. He’s going to do something amazing.”
As Will Graham addressed the crowd, he challenged them to see the spiritual needs around them and to be a part of this evangelistic opportunity.
Pulling from Luke 19:41-42, where Jesus wept over Jerusalem, Will Graham said, “Let me ask you one simple question: When was the last time you wept for Tifton? When have you lost sleep because of what’s going on in Tifton? When’s the last time you wept for the spiritual darkness, the spiritual blindness, that’s in your city?”
The Tiftarea Celebration will be an opportunity to fight back against the spiritual darkness in South Georgia, Will Graham said.
“We need people weeping over their cities. I pray that in the days to come, God will break your heart for the things that break His heart in this community, the spiritually broken people in these communities,” he said. “I pray that God will give you a burden like never before to see the things that He sees, to see the hurt, to see the bitterness, to see the anger, to see the hopelessness, in your own community. I pray that He’ll give you the sight to see that.”
Will Graham concluded, “Don’t let this opportunity, this point in time, pass you by, because someone’s eternity is at stake right now.”
Mountain State Celebration
In the small college town of Fairmont, West Virginia, home to Fairmont State University and just up the road from Morgantown (home of West Virginia University), a passionate coalition of more than 175 pastors and civic leaders gathered at the Bridgeport Conference Center to kick off planning and preparation for the Mountain State Celebration with Will Graham.
The room was electric with anticipation. Scattered throughout the excited crowd were multiple small groups of prayer breaking out, two or three people at a time clasping hands and praying over their region.
As the announcement began, Fairmont Mayor Brad Merrifield welcomed Will Graham to the community. He presented Graham with a key to the city and a small, ornate quilt made by his wife. Pointing to the various colors pieced together in the artwork, he likened the fabric to the various parts of the community coming together to participate in the Celebration.
“We have all these pieces of fabric, and the only thing that we need to make something beautiful out of them is the thread. And I think all of us in this room know Who the thread is,” said the mayor. “We’ve just begun and there are so many changes that have already happened. There are friendships that have been formed, there are problems that are being addressed. If we don’t do another thing, this event has already paid big dividends.”
Will Graham echoed that sentiment as he took the stage.
“I’m excited to see what God’s going to do, and to be honest, it’s exciting to see what God has already been doing,” he said.
Referencing the endemic drug problem across West Virginia, Will Graham shared the importance of proclaiming the Good News of Jesus in the area.
“The only solution is the Lord Jesus Christ. He’s the only One that can break the chains. Christ can change everything. That’s the only hope for this community,” he said. “I can only point people to Jesus. I can only tell people about Jesus. I can’t change their life. Only Christ can do that.”
Will also cautioned those in attendance that the road ahead will be paved through hard work, sacrifice and prayer, and opposition will come as the name of Jesus is lifted high. But it will be worth it.
“It’s got to be the power of the Holy Spirit. God’s got to be moving in your community,” Will Graham said. “You and I are both going to be praying for this community—that God will unleash His Spirit upon this place like it’s never seen before, that there will be a great and mighty movement of the Lord Jesus Christ in people’s lives, and we’ll see lives transformed for His glory.”
How to Pray for These Celebrations
Will you commit to joining in prayer for the Tiftarea and Mountain State Celebrations? Here’s how you can pray:
- Pray for the committees that will be heavily involved in planning and preparation.
- Pray for protection and favor for those who will be leading the efforts, understanding that this is a spiritual battlefield.
- Pray that many Christians and churches would take advantage of the opportunity and get involved.
- Pray that Christians would be bold in their faith as they invite their friends to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ, and that God would soften the hearts of those who are in desperate need of the Gospel message.