The first of a series of Billy Graham Evangelistic Association summer concerts drew nearly 11,000 people this past Saturday.
"Rock the River Tour," a series of day-long concerts along the Mississippi River, kicked off in Baton Rouge over the weekend where the summer heat mixed with the music of some of the hottest Christian bands.
For seven hours, young people from all over Louisiana enjoyed the music of America's top rock and hip-hop bands that included Flyleaf, Superchick, RED, Hawk Nelson, Mary Mary, Da T.R.U.T.H., Dennis Agajanian, and Canton Jones.
Then Franklin Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), got on stage to challenge the crowd to commit their lives to Jesus Christ.
"God didn't send Mohammed or Buddha to save us from our sins, he sent his only son, Jesus Christ, to save us from our sins, and he loves you," Graham said to the crowd, citing the well-known passage, John 3:16, according to the local newspaper The Advocate. "God loves you and will forgive you of your sins if you only pray and ask him to."
When Graham invited attendees to come forward to pray for forgiveness, dozens of young people stepped forward.
One of the persons who came forward was 25-year-old Houston Redmond. He said he accepted Graham's invitation "to get my life back on the straight path. A lot of these people here today seem happy and I want that."
He added, "I'm going to start going to church, too."
During the concert, young people moshed and danced to the music.
Local officials who attended the Rock the River concert included Mayor-President Melvin "Kip" Holden of Baton Rouge and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
Jindal welcomed the crowd by proclaiming, "Our God is an awesome God, isn't he?"
He added, "I welcome you not only as a governor but as a brother in Christ."
Since January, more than 200 Baton Rouge-area churches and 1,000 volunteers have helped organized the $1 million event.
The idea for the Rock the River Tour came last year when Graham shared his vision on reaching America's youth. The Baton Rouge event is the first-ever Rock the River concert.
The next stop for the evangelistic concert tour is on Aug. 2 in St. Louis. Afterwards, the tour will go to Quad Cities, Iowa (Aug. 8) and Minneapolis-St. Paul (Aug. 16).