'Rock the River' Wraps Up '09 Tour with 23,000 in the Twin Cities

Evangelist Franklin Graham and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association wrapped up their inaugural four-city "Rock the River" tour Sunday with their final stop in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Since embarking on the tour up the Mississippi river, the BGEA has reached out to well over 113,000 youth and young adults and witnessed around 1,000 decisions for Christ through its new youth outreach, which may seem like a departure from the organization's historic crusades but, as Graham puts it, "is just a continuation of the youth-focused ministry that my father and his team started more than 60 years ago with Youth For Christ."

"Over the years, our desire to reach young people with the transforming power of the Gospel has not diminished, and the Rock the River Tour is designed to reach youth primarily between the ages of 13 and 23 with the message of God's love through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ," noted Graham, who leads the BGEA as its president and CEO.

"On the surface, these Rock the River Tour events look nothing like a crusade. But in fact we are using all the principles of successful crusade evangelism God has taught us through the years," he added.

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 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.

On Sunday, 23,000 people came out to Harriet Island Regional Park for the tour's finale, which featured the sounds of Flyleaf, Kirk Franklin, DecembeRadio, Lecrae, Superchick, FLAME, and Canton Jones.

The tour's final stop was especially meaningful for the BGEA, as the ministry's headquarters used to be based in the Twin Cities.

Other cities the tour has hit include Baton Rouge, La.; St. Louis, Mo.; and Davenport, Iowa.

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