Overflow crowds of 11,400 filled the arena of the American Bank Center and two other areas on the final night of the Franklin Graham Festival in Corpus Christi, Texas.
The South Texas 2005 Franklin Graham Festival, held Aug. 19-21, brought the first-ever revival to the small city whose name translates to "Body of Christ." In the tradition of the Great Awakening, when revivalists communicated a simple message with great appeal to the tens of thousands who rushed to hear them, people similarly flocked to the arena grounds. There were 31,300 who gathered over the course of three days to hear the message of Christ delivered by Graham.
"It was very overwhelming," admits Carolyn Brandon, 47, who has been a Christian all her life. Thousands sang, clapped, and cried together in the stands.
Organizers believed that the event will have a lasting impact on the community in two ways first, there will be more Christians and, secondly, there will be greater co-working amongst the area's churches. Over 170 churches banded together for the nine-month long preparations for the Festival.
"I talked with several of the ministers, and we want to band together," said Pastor Steve Fieldcamp of First United Methodist Church. "We don't have a ministerial alliance, and I think the blessing that can come out of it will be a sense of unity."
Spokesperson for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Jeremy Blume, saw clearly both unity among the churches and also the growth of believers.
"Many churches who never have worked together before are now united, but also many people have made a life-changing decision and are now plugged into churches," he said. There were over 1,800 commitments just the first two nights. Follow up will be done by the churches in the area.
On Sunday, Graham preached the same simple message of Gods love as he had done to more than 3.5 million people since 1989.
"This very night, God through the Holy Spirit is calling you. God is willing to forgive you, but you've got to come [forward]. He'll set you free," said Graham, according to the local Corpus Christi Caller-Times. "Ask Jesus Christ into your heart and into your life right now."
Corpus Christi means body of Christ. BGEA festival director Daniel Klug said planners would like nothing more than to see their city transformed into a true body of Christ.
"I think the Spirit is stirring in Corpus Christi, and it'll continue to do great things here," said Fieldcamp.