Night Two: Festival of Hope Romania
July 5, 2008 - July 5, 2008, TIMISOARA, Romania—The second night of the Franklin Graham Festival of Hope Romania begins as crowds of people of all ages walk along the streets of Timisoara to enter the Dan Paltinisanu stadium. View photo gallery
by Ann Marie Chilton
Timisoara, like many European cities, is designed in a circle, and the stadium is close to the center.
Wide sidewalks line all of the main streets, and people walk everywhere—from class at the local universities, from small restaurants in the alleyways, from apartment buildings around the city—to come to the Festival.
6:33 p.m. The Festival choir is singing, “We Will Glorify the King of Kings” in Romanian as a powerful greeting for all who enter the stadium. It’s a simple but breathtaking tune written by Twila Paris.
They sing, “We will glorify the Lord of Lords, who is the great I Am.”
6:46 p.m. Dennis Agajanian is strumming “Be Thou My Vision” on his guitar. Anne Barbour steps up and begins singing. Her voice sounds like a perfect instrument. When the song is complete, people in the audience cheer.
One of the translators says she can’t wait to buy John and Anne Barbour’s CD because she loves their music.
6:49 p.m. Now a young couple is onstage with a classical pianist. The couple is Crina and Ovidiu Ciucurita, and they are opera singers. They sing, “God, I Sing to You.”
It’s breezy tonight. Programs are flapping in people’s hands, and the royal blue fabric covering the front of the stage is waving. It feels like it’s around 75 degrees, just perfect.
6:55 p.m. Piano player Huntley Brown and Ukrainian saxophonist Igor Rudily are onstage now playing a relaxing tune. Huntley never seems to need any sheet music. He's got music pulsing through his fingers. It's a gift.
People continue to walk into the stadium, and already more are here than last night. The stadium is full!
7:00 p.m. The Festival choir is always the most amazing sound, one voice. Imagine the songs in heaven.
For more than 50 years, Cliff Barrows directed the choirs at Billy Graham Crusades. Now, local volunteers serve as choir directors at each Festival location. Cliff still sings, however, and travels around the world to share God's love with people.
7:04 p.m. White seats, inside nine larger sections of dark purple seats, spell out the city name, T-I-M-I-S-O-A-R-A. So many people have found a seat at this point that you cannot read the city name anymore.
7:14 p.m. Dennis is back onstage playing “Jesus, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” a tune known all around the world and written by Johann Sebastian Bach. The tune flows into “He Leadeth Me.”
With Dennis’ rhythm, it is a quiet tune with a foot-tapping beat. John Barbour sings along, “By His own hand He leadeth me."
People walking around the upper border of the stadium have stopped to listen.
7:20 p.m. The Bel Canto young women’s choir, dressed in red and black, is singing “Alleluia” over and over again. Everyone is the choir is smiling too! A French horn and a piano accompany them.
The choir members clap to the beat as they sing. This group makes everyone smile with their bright, joyful sound and beaming faces.
7:43 p.m. In Romanian, Jesus’ name is spelled “Isus,” and sounds like “ee-soos.” It’s the name above all names in every language.
8:10 p.m. Franklin Graham is at the podium. He never looks down at notes; he just looks out at the people. He smiles as he tells the crowd that his father, Billy Graham, will be 90 years old. Everyone claps.
He tells the crowd about his children and grandchildren. People in Romania are a communal culture. Families are very close.
“Christ was raised from the dead,” Franklin Graham says. “And tonight if you’re willing to invite Christ to come into your heart, God will forgive you and cleanse you; you can have a new life and a new beginning.”
There’s a reason it’s called the Good News!
8:15 p.m. Franklin Graham is telling a story about a young man who ran from God, also known as the Prodigal Son. Prodigal means “wasteful.”
“He didn’t want to work," Franklin Graham says. "He wanted to play, do his own thing. The Bible says, ‘All we like sheep have gone astray.'”
"Everyone here is looking for happiness. The problem is, many people look in the wrong place. They think that materialism will bring them happiness. … But something’s missing. ...You’ve got to be willing to trust Jesus Christ by faith."
8:26 p.m. Only a few open seats remain, and lines of people are standing in different spots around the stadium to listen. Franklin Graham’s message is a message that speaks to each individual.
He says, "Maybe you're here tonight in your 30s or 40s and you think it’s too late for you. … It’s not too late to come home to God. ... Loneliness is a terrible thing, but Jesus said, 'I will never leave you or forsake you.' If you invite Christ into your heart tonight, He’ll never leave you. That’s a promise."
8:41 p.m. Franklin Graham asks everyone to stand. More than 22,600 people are here tonight.
Now he’s inviting people to take a step of faith and come forward in front of the platform to make a public declaration, where they will pray to surrender their lives to Jesus Christ.
People are walking forward as everyone stands. More and more are walking down from their seats. Tonight in Romania, more than 700 people have decided to have a new life and a new beginning through Jesus Christ.