- (Photo: BGEA)
Nearly 14,000 youth and young adults came out Saturday for the third stop of the four-city “Rock the River” tour led by evangelist Franklin Graham and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
Though not as large as the crowd the week before in St. Louis, the 13,800 people who attended the “Rock the River” event at Centennial Park in Davenport, Iowa, pushed the tour’s attendance figure closer to 100,000 and included 805 decisions for Christ.
"We thank God for what he’s done,” says Graham, who leads the BGEA as president and CEO. “ We’ve come up the Mississippi River, fishing for the souls of America’s youth: kids that have never even been to church or known that people love them. This is what it is all about: taking God’s love – His son, Jesus Christ – to another generation."
In total, more than 90,000 people have so far taken part in the inaugural “Rock the River” tour, which aims to attract unchurched young people living amid the currents of secularism, postmodernism, and God-less culture.
"The country we’re living in today is different than when I grew up," says Graham. "Kids today don’t have role models. They don’t even know that God is there and cares for them. These kids need help. They are searching for someone who will love them and tell them the truth. We have the answer."
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.
The BGEA’s new, high-energy youth outreach has so far 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.
Despite statistics leaning in their favor, Graham and the BGEA have been urging the faith community to continually pray for their latest effort, noting that "it is a spiritual battle we are facing here.”
“The devil wants these kids. He wants their souls. He wants these kids in hell with him for eternity,” Graham says.
"In every battle, blood is shed. My prayer is that the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ will cover those who come to the event, that many will experience forgiveness of sin. The blood for this battle was spilled 2,000 years ago when Jesus Christ shed His blood on Calvary’s cross."
With Saturday’s event all wrapped up, the BGEA is now headed to the final stop of “Rock the River” – Minneapolis-St. Paul, which will gather thousands more youth and young adults on Aug. 16.
"Pray for us," urges Graham. "This is a battlefield. We are going in the name of Jesus. Pray for these kids that are lost.”