American evangelist Franklin Graham headed south of the border this past weekend to a Mexican state that was nearly 80 percent submerged under water last fall, drawing the largest crowd among his recent festivals.
Some 112,000 people from the Mexican state of Tabasco attended the Festival of Hope event from June 6 to 8 in Villahermosa, Mexico, according to The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. During the three-day event, 9,492 people made a commitment to Jesus Christ.
"Last October, we all were watching and praying as the floods came," recalled Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
"Today I had a chance to visit some people who are still in tents, whose homes were lost and have not been rebuilt," he said. "We are praying for you and the government of Mexico."
The flood in Tabasco last fall forced an estimated 20,000 people into emergency shelters, and is said to impacted more than a million people in some way.
"Maybe you feel tonight that God doesn't love you, that you're little in God's eyes," Graham said over the weekend, according to BGEA. "I'm here tonight to tell you that you're important to God. I want you to know that God loves you. He loves you, and He loves Tabasco. Christ died for all of Mexico."
Earlier last week, Graham – who also heads the international Christian relief organization Samaritan's Purse – helped hand out gift-filled shoe boxes collected by the group's Operation Christmas Child project.
Underprivileged children who have been living in tents and temporary shelters with their families since the disaster were the recipients of the gift boxes.
On Saturday, 31,000 children packed the Parque Tabasco for "Festininos," a program featuring fun drama and music that teaches children about God's love. A total of 4,374 children and parents responded to the invitation to follow Jesus Christ.
The Festival of Hope in Villahermosa was organized by 890 area churches and thousands of volunteers in partnership with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
Upcoming Graham festivals will be held in Timisoara, Romania (July 4-6); Charleston, S.C. (Sept. 19-21); and Taipei, Taiwan (Oct. 30-Nov. 2).