Will Graham Celebration Bears Early Fruit
People Meet Jesus at Christian Life & Witness Courses in New Jersey
May 20, 2011 - Even before Will Graham preached his first word at the Jersey Shore Celebration, lives had already been changed eternally.
by Janet Chismar
Jennelle and Gina are both excited to head to the Jersey Shore Will Graham Celebration in Ocean Grove, N.J., this weekend—for different reasons.
Jennelle attended a Christian Life and Witness class at her church a few months ago that she says has given her courage to share her faith for the first time. She’ll be serving as a counselor at the event this weekend.
Meanwhile, Gina used an Operation Andrew prayer card—which helped her focus on praying for five unsaved coworkers and classmates. Two of the people on her card finally agreed to attend.
The two students at Monmouth University are among 3,000 who attended the Christian Life and Witness Course (CLWC), a long-time staple of Billy Graham’s Crusades, Franklin Graham’s Festivals and now Will Graham’s Celebrations.
Celebration Associate Josh Holland says, “We have just seen a strong participation and turnout at CLWC in New Jersey. Over 3000 people went through this three-week class, basically learning how to share their faith and go deeper in their own walk with God. We saw nearly 200 first-time decisions for Christ in the classes, and another 600 or so rededication-type commitments.”
Will Graham explains that people “often show up thinking they are Christians, but once they start going through the class, they start realizing – ‘You know what? I’ve never asked Jesus Christ to come into my own life.’ They’ve been religious but they’ve never asked Jesus to come into their lives and forgive them of their sins. So even before the Celebration began, people are coming to know Christ.”
The people who attended the classes are ready to help others come to know Jesus at the Celebration itself. According to Holland, “For a lot of them, this might actually be their first time leading someone to Christ — when Will gives the invitation and invites people to respond. We have counselors who actually pray with those individuals and get to lead them to Christ, and so we’re really excited about that.”
Another key tool connected with the Celebration, says Graham, is Operation Andrew. “Basically you start to pray for five people in your community that you’d like to see come to know Christ — a teacher, a waiter, someone who works at the dry cleaner or your kid’s school. It could be a neighbor or a loved one.”
You write down the names of five people and you start praying for those five people, says Graham. You pray that God will give you the opportunity to have a spiritual impact in that person’s life – inviting them to church or to the Celebration.
Jenelle and Gina agree these tools have “rocked our worlds!”
”I am shy,” Jenelle adds, “but I want to do something for Jesus. I know I am supposed to share my faith and this weekend, I will.”
The impact won’t end on Sunday, either. Holland explains that a team follows up with every person who responds to the Gospel. “Where are these people who came down front, stood in front of the stage to respond to the invitation — where are they three years or five years down the road?
“We want to do everything we can on our part to make sure no one falls through the cracks, so to speak,” Holland adds.