Franklin Graham in China: Highlights of an Historic Visit
October 15, 2009 - During his October visit to China, Franklin Graham preached in the nation's second largest church, dedicated a lay training center and medical clinic, and visited a seminary in the province devastated by last year’s earthquake. View all photos and scroll down for daily reports.
by Richard Greene
CHONGQING CITY, October 20, 2009 — Building upon his grandfather’s 25-year service as a missionary doctor in China, Franklin Graham, president of BGEA and Samaritan’s Purse, took part in the historic dedication of the QI Jiang Anwen Township Medical Clinic.
Anwen is an agricultural and mining village of 20,000 people that is part of the sprawling Chongqing City in the interior of China. The village’s only medical facilities had to be replaced after the building cracked during a prolonged ice storm that ravaged southern Chongqing Province in February 2008.
Samaritan’s Purse contributed significantly toward the construction of a new three-story facility, which was begun in July 2008 and recently completed.
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CHENGDU, October 19, 2009 — When a powerful earthquake hit China in 2008, Franklin Graham was on the ground as it happened. Today, he is visiting areas still reeling from the disaster.
More than 69,000 people were killed and at least 375,000 people were injured when the earth shook on May 12, 2008. Franklin and a small delegation from BGEA were in Nanjing, just 800 miles from the epicenter.
Franklin responded with aid for the survivors of the catastrophe and quickly committed $150,000 each from BGEA and Samaritan’s Purse. The money was given to the China Christian Council to help them in their relief efforts.
This past spring, Samaritan's Purse airlifted almost 105 tons of Operation Christmas Child shoe box gifts to children in China who survived the earthquake. Learn more.
BAODING CITY, October 18, 2009—Continuing the Graham family legacy of sharing God’s Word and love with the Chinese people, Franklin Graham proclaimed the Gospel Sunday in China’s second largest church and extended an invitation to the some 10,000 people in attendance to entrust their lives to Jesus Christ. View photos.
And just as people have around the world, including in China’s largest church last May, more than 1,000 people responded.
Learn more about this historic day »
BAODING CITY, October 17, 2009 — Under a clear blue sky, amidst colorful pageantry and received by an enthusiastic invited crowd several thousand strong, Franklin Graham helped dedicate a new Lay Training Center at the Bethel Church of Baoding, the second largest church in China. View photos.
The crowd reserved its most vocal appreciation when Franklin declared during the dedication ceremony, “My prayer is that there will be young men and women who will leave this training center to go throughout China and the rest of Asia to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
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BEIJING, October 16, 2009 — Director General Wang Zuo An of the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) for The People’s Republic of China told Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, on Friday morning that the Graham family’s longstanding love for and commitment to his country has contributed to a growing friendship between China and the United States.
Both Franklin and the newly named Director General Wang said they look forward to building even closer ties and pledged mutual cooperation, which they said will help further foster a stronger relationship between their two countries.
Director General Wang said he was born in Jiangsu Province, where Franklin’s mother Ruth Bell Graham was also born, and where his grandfather, Dr. L. Nelson Bell, spent 25 years as a surgeon. He also expressed his appreciation for how Franklin’s father Billy Graham promoted friendship between China and the United States.
Read more about the Graham China legacy »
“Because of this special relationship between your family and China, you have made a lot of contributions to the friendship between China and the United States,” Director General Wang said.
Then he expressed to Franklin, “I believe that with your effort, you, too, will promote mutual understanding and friendship between our two countries.”
Franklin Graham meets with Director General Wang Zuo An
Franklin said he was glad he could extend in person his congratulations to Director General Wang for his recent appointment to head SARA and also conveyed his father’s congratulations on his behalf. He added that he was deeply grateful for the strong relationship and good cooperation between SARA and BGEA and Samaritan’s Purse.
“We thank God for all that He has done,” Franklin said. “As a Christian minister, I want people everywhere to know of God’s love for them, and I want people to know how they can have a relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ.”
Franklin told Director General Wang that his job is extremely important, especially in light of the millions of Chinese people who are men and women of faith. “We will encourage people everywhere to pray for you that God will give you wisdom in this responsibility,” Franklin said.
“It’s important that we continue building bridges between our two countries,” Franklin added. “We want to be good neighbors, good friends, and we will work toward this end.”
Prior to meeting with Director General Wang, Franklin met with recently appointed U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman at his residence.
BEIJING, October, 15, 2009 — "Coming to China is kind of like coming home," said Franklin Graham, president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse, on his arrival in Beijing today.
This leg of his journey follows a successful visit to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).
Franklin was greeted in Beijing by Mrs. Guo Wei, Director of the Foreign Affairs Department of the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA). Mrs. Guo was representing the new SARA Director General Wang Zuo An, whom Franklin will meet Friday morning.
After thanking Mrs. Guo, Franklin said, “Coming to China is kind of like coming home,” referring to the land where his mother, Ruth Bell Graham, was born, and where his grandfather, Dr. L. Nelson Bell, spent 25 years as a surgeon in Jiangsu Province.
Excitement is building for Franklin’s visit this weekend to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ at Bethel Church of Baoding, the second largest church in China, and to take part in the dedication of a new training center designed to help equip pastors and lay leaders to effectively fulfill Christ’s Great Commission of evangelism and discipleship. The dedication of the training center in Baoding, located adjacent to Bethel Church, will take place Saturday afternoon. Franklin will then preach Sunday morning at the church.
Located about two hours outside Beijing, Baoding is a famous historical and cultural city with a population of about 10.1 million people.
Pastor Cheng Baoshan of the Bethel Church of Baoding, China
The Holy Spirit is Working
Bethel Church was established in 1984 in a building that could accommodate about 500 people. Over the years, the church experienced explosive growth and needed to expand. It was eventually able to construct and move into a new building about two years ago. Today, church membership has soared to 5,000 members.
“The Holy Spirit is working,” said the Reverend Cheng Baoshan, pastor of Bethel Church. “It’s not because of me, but only because of God.”
It is a high honor for the church to host Franklin Graham, said Pastor Cheng, adding that many of his church members know of Franklin and of his father Billy Graham. “Now they will have the chance to see Franklin and listen to him proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said.
Pastor Cheng heard Billy Graham preach at a church in Beijing when he visited there in 1988 with Mrs. Graham. Franklin accompanied his parents during that significant and memorable family visit.
“I was a student in seminary, and I was able to hear Mr. Graham preach a very good sermon,” Pastor Cheng said. “Now, 21 years later, Franklin is here and we will have the opportunity to hear him preach and to help dedicate our training center. This will be a wonderful ministry.”
Tom Phillips, BGEA, and Rev. Cheng Baoshan, pastor of Bethel Church
A Center for Training
Pastor Cheng also expressed thanks to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse for their participation in the training center development. “Because of their involvement and commitment by Franklin, more people will be able to do greater evangelism in the future,” he said.
The training center’s foundation was laid in October 2008 and construction began this past May and was completed in time for the dedication service. “Students coming to our training center are not full-time working in the church, but their full-time job is working the land,” Pastor Cheng explained. “So they cannot go to seminary and become pastors, but they can come to our training center for several weeks at a time, and some will even stay for up to a year. As a result of the training, they will be able to go back and serve their people and church better.”
In addition to classes on the Bible, theology and church administration and management, students will be also trained in practical evangelism, Pastor Cheng said. “They will learn how to tell people what the Gospel is, and this is most important, not only for their areas and churches but for all of China,” he said.
Richard Greene is an assistant editor for Decision Magazine.