Franklin Graham's "Rock the Lakes" event in Buffalo, N.Y., on Saturday pulled a crowd of more than 11,000 people who heard gospel messages by the evangelist between performances from some of Christian music's biggest acts.
"Tonight, you can be changed," the son of evangelist Billy Graham told the audience at Coca-Cola Field in downtown Buffalo on Saturday, the first day of the two-day, free-admission event offering "music with a message."
Graham, who serves as president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and heads the Samaritan's Purse, gave an invitation for people to accept Christ, and dozens came – from way up in the bleachers to the front row on the ground, BGEA said on its website. Dozens among the 11,300 people who attended the event accepted Jesus as their Savior and Lord.
The crowd went wild with Saturday's lineup, which included performances from Marcus G., Dennis Agajanian, Flame, Tedashii, Lacey from Flyleaf, Building 429 and Skillet. The event also included a guitar contest with renowned guitarist Dennis Agajanian and four local young men who showcased their talent onstage.
Lacey Sturm from Flyleaf introduced herself as "just a regular girl who got rescued from suicide at age 16." She told the crowd about her troubled past, about accepting Christ at age 10 but giving up on Him when her cousin was beaten to death by his step-dad that same year. She said she was bullied in school for wearing her brother's old clothes.
"I was an atheist who hated Christians. I hated the idea of God. I hated church people," she told the audience. She was "addicted to being sad," crying herself to sleep at night for six years. She was miserable. She thought she was worthless. She was drained. "That's what sin does to you," she said.
Rock the Lakes was organized along with hundreds of local churches. "We've been asked by the churches, about 300 churches in the Buffalo area that have come together that are concerned about the youth of this city and this area of New York," wgrz.com quoted Graham as saying prior to the start of the event. "Because we've taken God out of our schools, we've taken God out of our government. We've tried to take God out of our society. And we're not better."
Festival Director Sherman Barnette said, "It's not just like another event coming to town, because, really, truly, the involvement of local churches and pastors is critical to what we do." Rock the Lakes is designed from the perspective of local churches and organizations, he said. "We're not here to compete with the local church, we're here to complement what the local churches are already doing."
The event continues Sunday at 4 p.m., with children's activities at 2:30 p.m. Michael W. Smith, the Rend Collective Experiment, Lacey, L'Angelus and Reilly will perform.