Youth Embrace ‘The Main Thing’ at Saturday’s Festival of Hope

By   •   August 17, 2014

girl praying
Hundreds of youth gathered at the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh Saturday for day two of the Three Rivers Festival of Hope. Many decided to give their lives to Christ.

It’s been more than 40 years since Faith Law took a bus from West Virginia to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for a Billy Graham Crusade. At 12 years old, she accepted Christ there in 1968.

On Saturday she found herself in the Steel City again, this time for the Three Rivers Festival of Hope with Franklin Graham.

There, she huddled with two teen girls who were nervous about where they stood with God. They were about the same age Law was during that life-changing Crusade, and she was thrilled to lead them to Christ.

In fact, everyone onstage in Saturday’s Festival was loud and clear about the One who saved them.

Lacey Sturm
Pittsburgher Lacey Sturm shared how, as an angry teenage atheist, she surrendered her life to Christ.

More than 8,000 people filled the CONSOL Energy Center for the Festival’s second day, featuring rappers Lecrae and Tedashii, rock band We as Human and Pittsburgh’s own Lacey Sturm. More than 10,000 others from over 80 countries watched the event around the world through a live web stream.

“I want you to have fun, but I want you to keep the main thing the main thing … and my main thing is Jesus,” Tedashii said.

While the night was full of rock and hip-hop, Jesus remained at the center as hundreds of youth crowded in front of the stage to hear songs about redemption, God’s endless love and finding freedom in Christ.

Lacey Sturm shared her powerful testimony as a former atheist, and Tedashii shared his recent struggle with the loss of his 1-year-old son.

“The grief of this world does not diminish the glory that (God) has,” he told a captivated crowd.

By the time Franklin Graham took the stage to preach on Mark 10—about surrendering one’s life to follow Christ—many in the audience were ready to take that step.

“Will you choose tonight to put your faith and trust in the One who shed His blood for you?” he asked.

People poured out of their seats to come forward—many of them children and teens—and after they said a collective prayer, the ones left in the stands erupted in loud applause. Hundreds made decisions on Saturday night, with over half 18 and younger.

Franklin Graham
Franklin Graham read a passage from Mark 10 about what it takes to be a true follower of Christ.

“When you prayed that prayer just then,” Franklin Graham told those before him, “(God) pressed the delete button.” He erased your sins, he added.

Around the arena, trained youth counselors explained the Gospel to their peers. Other counselors had a few more years under their belts.

One quiet, middle-aged man who came forward found counselor Richard Webb.

“He just felt it was time,” Webb said. The man’s wife is a Christian, and after Saturday’s message, he decided to make the same commitment to Jesus Christ. The man grew more comfortable with Webb as they spoke, and the pair will stay in touch as the man grows in his faith.

“I don’t want it to end,” Webb, a Pittsburgh resident, said about the Festival. He hopes “that the city comes back to God” and that this three-day event will continue encouraging his friends and neighbors to do so.

“One thing you’ll never regret is laying your life down and letting Jesus increase,” Lecrae said onstage Saturday. Lecrae closed the Festival with a high-energy performance in front of thousands of jumping, hyped-up young people, boldly proclaiming Christ as his Lord and Rescuer.

It’s not always easy to give up selfish desires and follow Christ, Lecrae told them, but it’s so worth it.

“I’m giving up some things,” he said, “but I am gaining everything.”

The Three Rivers Festival of Hope continues Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET. Watch live at for performances by Michael W. Smith, the Charlie Daniels Band, Aaron Shust and more.

Lecrae not only had the floor of the large arena packed with people excited to see him; he shared what Christ means in his life as everyone listened.

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  1. nancy l smith says:

    It truly seems that Franklin and Will Graham are destined for “such a time as this”. Who better than Billy Graham ministries to step forward and bring revival to lives in need in the present cultural of America. The years of dedication and loyalty to America and her people have placed the ministry in a position of authority to do this because in spite of all the anti-Christ present….Billy Graham ministries is respected across the country because of its faithfulness and love for Christ.

  2. Annette Taylor says:

    I am in PA but too far away from Pittsburgh to attend. I cannot seem to find the live feed for the Crusades. I apart of Freedom In Jesus Ministries and we use Billy Graham’s videos when we go on Prison Crusades. Men’s lives are saved, rededicated and are challenged to go all in. 98 % stand when challenged. God’s presence is widely sweeping through America and Reinhardt Bonke declared that “America will be saved” Over 17 million Africans were saved in Africa from 2001 -2012. There is more that because not every one filled out the salvation card.
    I would really appreciate it if you could send me the link for the live feed to my email so I can participate too. Praise be to the Most High God!!!

    1. Tim Kenny says:

      Annette, we have sent you the link. It’s