- (Photo: BGEA)
Nearly 10,000 people came to hear evangelist Will Graham speak at two consecutive weekend outreach events produced by The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in Texas.
The successful events, which began in the Red River area and concluded last weekend in Trinity Valley, had a combined total of 400 people coming forward to make decisions for Jesus Christ, according to BGEA.
Graham, the son of Samaritan's Purse president and CEO Franklin Graham, appears to have successfully and humbly accepted the torch passed down from his famous grandfather known for preaching before huge crowds at outdoor and indoor evangelistic events.
The Will Graham Celebrations in the Trinity Valley and Red River areas were the start of outreach events this year that plan to include stops in Canada, Australia, and other parts of the world.
When asked by The Christian Post about what the most memorable parts of the two weekends in Texas were for him, Graham answered, "I was able to take part in a 'first' for me this past weekend in Terrell. One of the guys from our team, Todd Pierce, saw a man on the side of the road collecting loose change at a stop light. He felt God leading him to stop and pick up this man and his brothers, and bring them to the event.
"As it ends up, this man was from Alabama and was drifting through Texas," Graham continued in an email interview exchange. "When the invitation was given that night, the man came forward. He expressed how amazing it was that people loved him, hugged him and welcomed him even though he hadn't showered and was wearing dirty clothes. After making his decision, he expressed that it was the first time in his life that he had really felt free."
Graham said that the next morning, while his team was still rejoicing over the man's decision, they heard that that the man was on his way to their hotel and wanted to be baptized.
"So, we (me, Todd and our emcee Mark Christian) had the opportunity to go into the water with him and have a little baptism service, right there in the Holiday Inn Express swimming pool," Graham said. "I've never had the opportunity to baptize someone at one of our events, but this was very unique and heartfelt. When we parted ways he was going to head back towards Alabama to reconnect with his wife."
In Terrell, more than 80 area churches representing 14 denominations helped to organize the event, and approximately 600 area volunteers helped to make it a success, BGEA stated.
Local civic leader Dena Risinger served as the chair of the executive committee. "When we began this process many months ago, we assumed that this weekend would be a destination," said Risinger, as reported by BGEA . "Now I realize that this is just the beginning, and God has even more in store for our area."
At the Red River event, Graham spoke about the opportunity to find purpose and hope in Jesus. "Maybe in this world you feel like a nobody. You feel like this world doesn't care for you. There may be some of you here tonight who are thinking about suicide. You're saying, 'What's the point, Will? No one's really going to care if I'm here or there.' My friends, I'm here to tell you tonight, God knows your name!"
After the outreach, Celebration Director Josh Holland said, "We've had a great weekend, but this isn't the end," said. "The Red River Will Graham Celebration will have a presence in the community for several more months. Further, the trainings that have taken place, the decisions that were made this weekend, and the unity of the local churches that have worked together in this process will continue to make an impact for years to come."
Graham explained what if feels like to experience an evangelistic event such as the ones that took place in Texas from his vantage point.
"Seeing people respond to the invitation to surrender their life to Christ is one of the greatest blessings. Often I'm moved to tears by the sight. People have asked me 'Do you ever see miracles happen?' And I respond to them 'All the time!' When that invitation is given and people come forward – not to Will Graham, but to Jesus – with tears in their eyes and hope in their hearts, I get to see that which was once dead, made alive in Christ," Graham told CP.