Thousands from the Greater Los Angeles area are expected to show up at the Rose Bowl tonight for the kickoff of what may be renowned evangelist Billy Grahams final crusade in California. In the same city where he launched his first crusade 55 years ago, Graham will be proclaiming the good news of the Gospel, bringing a message of hope and the possibility of a new beginning.
Twenty thousand volunteers from over 1,200 churches representing 95 denominations have been working together in preparation for the four-day evangelistic Crusade slated for Nov. 18-21.
"The Billy Graham campaign sets a historic moment before our city, as spiritual lightning has struck L.A. in his former crusades and I believe it is about to again," said the Rev. Jack Hayford, one of the crusade's co-chairs, as reported by KTLA-TV in Los Angeles. "We expect a positive impact to take place across the spectrum of human need and hurt."
It was 55 years ago, in 1949, that a young Billy Graham closed his first Los Angeles tent revival, which launched him into worldwide prominence. Since then he has preached the Gospel to more than 210 million people in more than 185 countries, according to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA).
Graham has held evangelistic crusades in Hollywood in 1951, and in Los Angeles in 1958 and 1963. In 1974, he returned to Los Angeles for a 25th anniversary celebration at the Hollywood Bowl. He also held crusades in Anaheim in 1969 and 1985.
Graham, now 86, says he'll be preaching some of the same sermons he preached in 1949. In an interview with The Associated Press, he said the Bible hasn't changed and people's hearts haven't changed.
"They're still in need of the affection the Gospel can give," Graham stated.
The renowned evangelist is set to speak for 30 minutes each evening tonight through Sunday.
As Graham has aged there has been widespread speculation that every crusade would be his last. "I've done nine 'last Billy Graham crusades,' Los Angeles crusade director Jeff Anderson told the LA Times in July. The Oct. 7-10 Crusade at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City was the tenth.
The Greater Los Angeles Crusade, Graham's last crusade in California, will begin tonight at 7:30 p.m. (Pacific Standard Time) with performances by Nicole C. Mullen and MercyMe. Other music artists slated to perform during the crusade are Michael W. Smith, the Katinas, Kutless, the TAIT band, Third Day, and Jars of Clay.