U.S.-based ministry leader Franklin Graham will be taking his successful “Rock the River” tour to Canada this summer, flanked by Christian artists including Flyleaf, Skillet, Hawk Nelson, Lecrae, Starfield, and Thousand Foot Krutch, among others.
Launched by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in 2009, Rock the River Tour is an evangelistic summer concert tour for youth featuring performances by some of the top Christian rock, hip-hop, and rap artists in the industry as well as messages delivered by BGEA CEO and President Graham who was inspired in 2008 to put on such a tour.
Though the outreach may seem at first glance like a departure from the organization’s historic crusades, Graham says it is just a continuation of the youth-focused ministry that his father – renowned evangelist Billy Graham – and his team started more than 60 years ago with Youth For Christ.
“We are evangelizing hard-core kids who are into sex, drugs, but [who] God didn’t give up on … just as He didn’t give up on you and me,” Graham told Canadian church leaders last month, according to The Gospel Herald.
In its debut year, “Rock the River” reached out to well over 113,000 youth and young adults and witnessed around 1,000 decisions for Christ in four cities along the Mississippi River.
The success of the BGEA’s new, high-energy youth outreach was not surprising given that 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.
Still, Graham has encouraged pastors in Canada to pray for and support the effort so that it can effectively reach a lost generation of young people with a positive message of hope.
“I don’t want to come in and have something cheesy,” Graham said. “We want this to be done with class – with the best band, sound system, and army of Christian kids who are trained as counselors.
“We need adults praying in the back that these kids can understand the gospel clearly and repent of their sins and follow the Lord,” he added.
For “Rock the River Tour West,” the BGEA will be hitting three cities in western Canada – Fraser Valley (Aug. 7), Calgary (Aug. 21), and Edmonton (Aug. 28).
Each daylong event will run for approximately seven hours.
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