Following a successful inaugural tour this summer, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association is planning to make their new Rock the River tour an annual event to reach out to America’s youth.
“I believe God is leading us to have an evangelistic concert tour every summer,” reported BGEA President and CEO Franklin Graham in a letter recently posted on his organization’s website.
Since embarking on the tour up the Mississippi river, the BGEA has reached out to well over 113,000 youth and young adults and witnessed around 1,000 decisions for Christ in four cities – Baton Rouge, La.; St. Louis, Mo.; Davenport, Iowa; and Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn. The new youth outreach, according to Graham, is a continuation of the youth-focused ministry that his father and his team started more than 60 years ago with Youth For Christ.
But "Rock the River" is not a replacement to the traditional evangelistic crusade format that is a trademark for the BGEA, Graham stressed.
“People want to know if we’ve given up on the traditional Crusade format. The answer is no,” the evangelist stated.
The new , high-energy youth outreach will just be one of a number of projects BGEA has engaged in to bring the timeless Gospel to the next generation.
“The Bible says that we are to use “all possible means” (1 Corinthians 9:22) to reach lost people with the message of repentance and salvation,” Graham noted.
Inspired by the vision that Graham shared last September, “Rock the River” brings together the sounds of some of the nation’s top Christian rock, hip-hop, and rap artists, in addition to messages delivered by Graham.
Over the course of its four-week run, the tour gained notable success – 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.
“As I looked into the faces of the young people who packed our Rock the River events last month, I saw so much emptiness, pain, confusion, and desperation,” reported Graham.
“Some of these kids have never had a truly loving relationship with an earthly father, much less a relationship with God the Father,” he added.
Aside from those who were reached, the effort also brought together hundreds of churches and trained 6,657 people through the BGEA’s Christian Life and Witness classes.
“We give God praise for the powerful work He did in each city, and is still doing in individual hearts and lives, through the preaching of His timeless Gospel,” Graham stated.
The Graham association has already begun preparing to reach more young people for Christ in other cities in the United States and Canada through future "Rock the River" events.
The ministry plans to keep fans and supporters updated on its website, rocktherivertour.com, and through social networking sites including Facebook and Twitter.
The Rock the River Tour currently has over 13,000 Facebook "fans" and over 2,200 Twitter "followers."