Graham Festival Opening Draws Over 12,000

BALTIMORE – Over 12,000 attendees, hundreds of volunteers, award-winning musical artists, and the Rev. Billy Graham were present for the opening night of the three-day Metro Maryland 2006 Franklin Graham Festival.

The Metro Maryland Festival, which runs until Sunday in Oriole Park at Camden Yards, was organized by some 655 area churches representing 54 denominations and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA).

Franklin Graham delivered a message taken from Genesis 6 as his 87-year-old father, Billy Graham, watched from the audience on Friday night. The message addressed man’s sin, Noah’s ark, the flood and God’s judgment.

“You see it makes God’s heart hurt when he sees sin. God hates sin. He is a holy God. He cannot tolerate sin. He could not tolerate it in Noah’s day and He cannot tolerate it in our day,” declared the younger Graham, who serves as president and CEO of the BGEA and president of the international relief organization Samaritan’s Purse. “But you see, God is a God of love. He loves you. He is willing to forgive. He was willing to forgive in Noah’s day. It took Noah 120 years to build that ark - 120 years they had a chance to say, ‘God we sinned against you and we’re sorry,’ but they didn’t.

“You have an opportunity tonight to tell God you are sorry. You have an opportunity tonight to make it right with God. You see judgment is coming, are you ready to stand before God?”

Graham concluded his message and called the crowd to the stage to confirm their faith and salvation in Jesus Christ.

“The only thing that is going to save you is the blood of Jesus Christ. Do you know him tonight? Do you trust him tonight?”

The opening night of the Festival featured award-winning musical artists including George Huff, Wintley Phipps, Randy Travis, and the Tommy Coomes Band.

Musical guests to perform this weekend at the Metro Maryland Festival include FFH, Joy Williams, Newsboy, and Andrae Crouch.

The Rev. Billy Graham plans to participate by offering words of hope to the community on Sunday if health permits.