Opening Eyes From Darkness to Light
A Letter From Franklin Graham
January 25, 2011 - Find Greta van Susteren's interview with Billy Graham and George W. Bush's discussion on his relationship with Mr. Graham in the video links to the left.
We are going to continue to preach against sin, calling it what it is, and we are going to continue to preach Jesus Christ...—Franklin Graham
It has to have been one of the most unforgettable evangelistic meetings I have ever led.
On January 9, I had the opportunity to stand at the national soccer stadium in Haiti’s capital and, with the support of 500 churches, proclaim the Gospel to 38,000 people along with tens of thousands more listening outside the stadium. During the event, Michael W. Smith, Lecrae, the Tommy Coomes Band, Dennis Agajanian, and a large Haitian choir gave praise and glory to the Lord through music.
Looking out across the crowd, I asked how many had lost family members in last year’s devastating earthquake. Almost every hand was raised. One man who was sitting on the platform told me about losing 16 loved ones. The suffering and mourning that is still taking place is unimaginable.
I asked God to give me strength as I preached on the words of John 3:16 —“God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (NIV). God knows what it is like to lose a Son, and God understands grief. I told the crowd about Jesus and explained that because of what He suffered on the cross, we can repent of sin, turn to Him as our Savior, and receive forgiveness and a changed life.
Right next to the stadium is a vast camp of tents and tiny shelters filled with families who still lack housing a year after the earthquake. People there could hear the music and the Gospel message over our loudspeakers. One of our board members took a walk through parts of the encampment during the Festival and noticed thousands of people sitting outside their shelters quietly listening, perhaps twice as many as were crowded inside the stadium. At the invitation, many hundreds walked forward onto the soccer field to make life-changing decisions for Christ, and we believe many of those outside also prayed in repentance and faith, asking to “receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9).
The day before, children overflowed the stadium for our KidzFest. “This is the future of Haiti,” a Haitian volunteer said, his eyes filling with tears of joy as he watched boys and girls responding to the Savior. “Today you see the foundation for the new Haiti being laid. A new Haiti is being built on Jesus Christ.”
Haiti has long been a land in spiritual darkness. Voodoo is one of the country’s official religions. But Jesus said, “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness” (John 12:46). Please pray for the thousands of new believers who now walk in “the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).
And pray for us as we continue to minister in Haiti throughout the rest of 2011. Rotating groups of Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains have been on the ground for more than 12 months, since the day after the earthquake, to care for emotional and spiritual needs of suffering people. These crisis-trained volunteers have comforted, shared the love of Jesus, and prayed one-on-one with more than 19,000 Haitians since the earthquake, and we are deploying even more chaplains there in the coming weeks and months.
We intend to continue serving and helping the churches who partnered with us. We plan to take the My Hope evangelistic TV project across Haiti this year, working through churches to train Christian believers who will invite friends and neighbors into their homes to hear the Gospel. We’d like to bring the Billy Graham School of Evangelism—a training seminar for pastors and church leaders that has been taught all over the world—to Haiti as part of our effort to encourage and strengthen the local churches.
As I spoke with pastors there, I heard many talk of their need for personal study resources. We are exploring the possibility of translating classic books by great men of God such as Charles Spurgeon, Harry Ironside, R.A. Torrey, and others into the Creole language for pastors to use. The ability to study the Word of God and the Gospel more deeply in their native language could have a huge impact on pastors’ preaching and ministry.
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We’d also like to take our Dare to Be a Daniel evangelism training, translate and adapt it for Haitian youth, and ask God to use it to raise up an army of young evangelists who will stand for Jesus and share their faith with their schoolmates, friends, and family all over the country. Along with that, we plan to continue providing Haitian children with an exciting discipleship training program called The Greatest Journey, helping them grow and become faithful followers of Christ.
The people of Haiti are not the only ones who need the Holy Spirit to “open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God” (Acts 26:18). On the very same weekend we were in Haiti, a man in Tucson, Arizona attempted to assassinate Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, severely wounding her and killing six bystanders in the process. Almost immediately, media pundits began trying to fix blame on political opponents, igniting a debate over what caused the attack—the national political climate, social conflict, a dysfunctional childhood, the lack of enough laws or too many laws, and so on.
Too often in our day, people are not considered responsible for their own actions. Many in America have lost any real understanding of sin. We live in a society where killing, rape, and violence are part of our daily lives through movies, books, TV, and the Internet. Instead of wickedness and sin, we see entertainment. Instead of repentance, we shift responsibility. America accepts a nonstop stream of sin portrayed as entertainment, much of it delivered right into our homes, and when real-life wickedness interrupts, we watch with fascination instead of falling on our knees in prayer.
At the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, we are going to continue to preach against sin, calling it what it is, and we are going to continue to preach Jesus Christ who died on a cross for our sin. I’m not going to be politically correct. I’m not going to retreat. The Bible says, “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son,” and then it says, “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:11–12).
We are grateful for your continued prayers and gifts. God uses you to enable us to proclaim the Gospel to people who need both hope and truth.
May God richly bless you,
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HAITI: The ministry needs in Haiti are enormous, urgent, and ongoing. Your gift of $50, $75, $150, or any amount to the World Emergency Fund–Haiti can help follow up with those who made decisions for Christ, help keep Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains in Haiti sharing the love of Christ with suffering people, or help make possible many other outreach ministries there, including My Hope and children’s discipleship. Give now »
CRUSADES: The world desperately needs to hear the truth about sin and about Jesus Christ, and so does America. Pray for our country, and pray for upcoming Crusade events this year in cities from the Jersey Shore to Southern California. Your gift of any amount can help people hear the life-changing Gospel across North America, as well as in other places such as Liberia next month. Donate today »
ANOTHER WAY YOU CAN HELP: Find out how you can use part of your investment securities to help more people in Haiti and around the world find hope and eternal life through Jesus Christ. By giving securities to BGEA, you may also avoid capital gains taxes and receive a charitable deduction. To learn more, call us at 1-877-2GRAHAM (1-877-247-2426) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
OUR GIFT TO YOU: When you give a gift to BGEA this month, we’ll send a copy of Charles Swindoll’s book Walk with Jesus: A Forty-Day Journey to the Cross and Beyond as our thank-you. The book provides six weeks of powerful and encouraging daily meditations that can help you prepare for Easter as you take a journey with Jesus to rediscover and celebrate the glorious meaning of the cross and the resurrection.