Graham to Bring 'Hope' to Secular Uruguay

American evangelist Franklin Graham will take the Gospel message along with the hope it promises to Uruguay – one of the most secular and atheistic nations in the Americas – later this week.

The South American nation, which has a 17.2 percent atheist or agnostic population according to the CIA World Factbook, will be the host of the upcoming Festival of Hope with Franklin Graham from March 19 to 21.

Thousands of people are expected to attend the festival, which is being organized by 600 local churches, at Charrua Stadium in the capital of Montevideo.

"Everyone is welcome," said Franklin Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the international relief organization Samaritan's Purse, in a statement. "Our hope is that anyone in Uruguay who is struggling with questions about life or would like a new beginning will come to this Festival of Hope."

During the three-day event, Graham will deliver nightly messages that will be bolstered by music from popular international and local Christian artists including Lily Goodman, Marcos Vidal, Los Del Camino, Dennis Agajanian with the Gutierrez Brothers, the Tommy Coomes Band, and a 400-voice choir made up of church volunteers from across the region.

"God is working in Uruguay," said Alejandro Wojnarowicz, senior pastor of El Rebaño Church and prominent Christian leader in Uruguay, according to BGEA's Decision magazine. "God is working through thousands of Christians immersed in the Holy Spirit who desire to see relatives, friends, neighbors, government leaders, business people, workers, youth, children and elderly people transformed and who are pouring out their love and compassion for those who will be saved."

The Festival of Hope in Uruguay will be Graham's first evangelistic festival in 2009. Other Franklin Graham events planned for this year include festivals in Tallinn, Estonia (May 29-31); Baton Rouge, Louisiana (July 18); St. Louis, Missouri (Aug. 2); Quad Cities, Illinois/Iowa (Aug. 8); and Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota (Aug. 16).