Churches across St. Louis are praying that the high-energy youth outreach of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association will bring about revival in their city, which Washington-based CQ Press last year listed as having the fourth worst crime rate among U.S. cities.
"The Rock the River Tour is highly anticipated by our church and community because we sense the need for a revival among our young people," said Andre Alexander, youth coordinator at Friendly Temple Church.
"We want to believe that all young people are not 'bad' and should be written off. We must be diligent about a way to reach them collectively, keep them connected by nurturing them, and equip them to disciple their friends," he told the BGEA.
Church leaders across St. Louis are especially looking forward to the Rock the River event today following the "victory" that the BGEA chalked up with its debut event in Baton Rouge.
"In the battle for the souls of young people, God gave us victory in Baton Rouge," reported BGEA president and CEO Franklin Graham after he and his team kicked off the inaugural Rock the River Tour last month with nearly 11,000 young people.
"Rock the River was exactly what we prayed it would be - an exciting evangelistic event that would attract unchurched young people to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ," he added.
For seven hours on July 18, young people from all over Louisiana enjoyed the music of top Christian rock and hip-hop bands in America including Flyleaf, Superchick, RED, Hawk Nelson, Mary Mary, Da T.R.U.T.H., Dennis Agajanian, and Canton Jones. The same brew of artists are expected to perform today as thousands gather at the Gateway Arch Grounds in St. Louis.
"They loved the music from bands like Flyleaf and Mary Mary, and when I gave the invitation to receive Christ, hundreds raised their hands and surrendered their lives to the Savior," recalled Graham.
"And that was just the start," the evangelist continued.
"As we head up the Mississippi River to St. Louis on August 2, the Quad Cities on August 8, and Minneapolis/St. Paul on August 16, we will be going against the currents of secularism, postmodernism, and the godless culture in which we live," the evangelist reported.
"Please pray for us. Pray that the Holy Spirit will draw thousands of lost young people to each of these Rock the River Tour events. The devil wants our young people in bondage to sin, but we're not going to give up. We're going to keep pursuing the lost. We do that by proclaiming the Gospel, which is 'the power of God to salvation' (Romans 1:16)."
Inspired by the vision that Graham shared last September, the BGEA's new, high-energy youth outreach aims to provide youth an opportunity to respond to the Gospel, be encouraged by trained peers and then related back to local caring churches.
According to the BGEA, more than two-thirds of those who made decisions for Christ in the last few years during the ministry's large, evangelistic crusades have been youth.