Graham Festival Opens Tonight in Corpus Christi with Dedication Service

Nearly two hundred churches in Corpus Christi, Texas, have been preparing for the upcoming Franklin Graham evangelistic festival, which begins tonight with a dedication service.

While Corpus Christi translates to "body of Christ," historically the churches have not been unified in this city, according to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA). However, the association reported that 175 churches worked together to prepare the community for this weekend’s South Texas Festival.

“This event could have a positive impact on our community like we’ve never seen,” said local executive chairman Cliff Atnip, according to the BGEA. “That’s why so many people here are working hard and investing so much into seeing this Festival make a difference in people’s lives.”

In preparation, a five-week series called Christian Life and Witness Course took place at 12 area churches. The course was designed to help participants "revitalize" faith and share it with the community.

Topics covered in the classes include how to apply God's Word to life, share Christ, and answer typical questions people ask.

According to the BGEA, more than 3,500 people took the Christian Life and Witness classes, including Saul Luna, an athletics trainer at a local high school.

"People are definitely willing to receive Christ," Luna told the BGEA. "We just have to give them the opportunity."

Luna told an athlete he knew about Christ soon after he began classes. Although the athlete was resistant at first, he later agreed to listen to Luna read through a tract provided by the class.

After taking the tract home with him, the athlete told Luna the following day that he prayed the prayer to receive Christ that night.

Luna saw changes in the athlete's life, according to BGEA. He was kinder to people, and he seemed to lose his tough exterior.

According to the association, the efforts of hundreds of volunteers from the numerous churches will likely yield similar results in the lives of those who make decisions to follow Christ at the evangelistic crusade.

Though tonight’s opener – which includes the dedication service and final choir practice – begins at 7 p.m. at the American Bank Center, the South Texas Festival 2005 will officially begin on Friday 7 p.m.