Thousands of Lives Changed in Philippines
God Uses Will Graham's Celebration of Hope to Reach Bicol Region
May 2, 2011 - Bringing together friends from all over the southern part of the Philippines, the Bicol Celebration of Hope changed the hearts of over 20,000, who came to hear Will Graham proclaim the Good News of the Gospel over a four-day period.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
— I John 1:9
By Trevor Freeze
Finding a ride to the Pili Freedom Stadium to experience the Bicol Celebration of Hope with Will Graham was simplified over the past four days.
Bring a friend, and you’re welcome to hop on the bus. Or on a local Jeepney, as the case may be.
That Operation Andrew concept was carried out in a way this region has never before experienced as Will Graham shared the Gospel to over 97,000 people from April 28 – May 1 and over 20,000 decisions were made for Christ.
“Will delivered a clear and powerful message each night at the Celebration in Bicol,” said Chad Hammond, Celebration of Hope director.
To put into context the far reach of this weekend event, more people attended the Celebration than the number of people live in the city of Pili (77,000), the capital of the Camarines Sur providence.
“Our transportation plans involved bringing 10,000 people from the Bicol regions,” said Bob Kendig, BGEA Counseling and Follow-up Coordinator. “Many as far as four hours away, plus one island transport.”
While the transportation plan, including ships and trucks provided by the military, proved an overwhelming success, the event was not without its obstacles. A burst of rain hampered the children’s event on Saturday morning, but after an initial scurrying, the crowd settled in and engaged in a message called “The Puzzle.”
Over 14,000 braved the weather on Saturday morning and over a third of the people who came made commitments for Christ.
“For the past 12 months the pastors and leaders in the region have been diligently working for the Celebration,” said Hammond of the event that was underwritten largely by churches in Manila.
By Saturday night, a beautiful bright-pink sunset over the stadium gave a visual of God’s glory as over 15,000 made their way to hear Will Graham speak on “change” out of I Samuel 1:1-18.
And thousands of lives were changed in every meeting. One local church of 150 people saw 125 new believers come to know Jesus as their Savior through the Celebration after fully engaging in Operation Andrew.
“There is now great excitement for the future,” Hammond said.