Bringing Fresh Hope to Colombia
Franklin Graham Festival will build on foundation laid in 2004
August 21, 2009 - When the BGEA brought My Hope to Colombia in Fall 2004, more than 700,000 people made decisions for Christ. Now, five years later, the ministry is building on that foundation with the Festival de Esperanza.
By Janet Chismar
This Thursday through Saturday, Franklin Graham will share the Good News of salvation in Bogotá, the capital city of Colombia.
"There is great anticipation for the Festival," says Yolanda Vasquez, an assistant in the BGEA Latin American office. "This has been reflected through the Church's desire to participate in the Festival. The churches are excited to see what will happen and how the Festival will impact them."
Vasquez believes that the My Hope broadcasts in 2004 paved the way for Festival preparations. "People understand the Operation Andrew method and are motivated to pray for their friends, family and neighbors," she says. "It encourages them that they were able to see results previously."
Those "previous results" are astounding. Across Colombia, more than 300,000 believers opened their homes to show the telecast to neighbors and friends. By the conclusion of the broadcasts, more than 700,000 people had filled out cards to register decisions for Christ. Many churches doubled in size overnight. Some congregations added more than 1,000 people.
Rev. Tulio E. Riascos Riascos, lead pastor of Iglesia Central de Santa Marta, says approximately 1,200 members of his church heard of the project. "We trained as many brothers as we could so they would convert their homes in Hope Centers for the thousands who walk without Christ."
The church saw 350 'Matthew' homes opened, "where these brothers gathered family members, neighbors and friends to share some food, and later to receive the message that was a great encouragement for believers and a great blessing for their friends," the pastor says.
After witnessing the positive results from these gatherings, many of the homes became cell groups and continue bringing the presence of Iglesia Central de Santa Marta to the entire city.
"To date," says Riascos Riascos, "we have tripled attendance in our church, thanks to God and the support of the My Hope campaign."
Ready for More
"Nothing like this had ever happened in the history of the Colombian Church," said Pastor Edgar Ibarra in 2004. "Churches from all denominations worked together for one objective—to win people to Christ."
Before My Hope, "many pastors had grown weary," Ibarra said. "They had worked for years sharing Christ, but there was so little fruit. For the first time, they now see the real harvest of souls that came through the program, and they are greatly encouraged. There is a real hunger now for more personal evangelism."
In the months leading up to the Festival de Esperanza, churches trained Christians how to use personal evangelism to invite neighbors and friends to the event. Operation Andrew is a simple, five-step evangelism plan used during My Hope and for Festivals.
Youth and women in Bogota also have been involved in wider-reaching outreaches. Women participating in the Bearers of Hope visitation strategy will go block by block throughout the city of Bogotá distributing evangelistic materials and Festival invitations. Young people will distribute Festival invitations at strategic locations throughout Bogotá using Saturation Evangelism.
PLEASE PRAY for the Festival de Esperanza.
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*Additional reporting by Jim Dailey for the February 2005 issue of "Decision" magazine