Bringing Light to the Valley of Death
A Letter From Franklin Graham
January 26, 2012 - The Gospel can change lives for eternity, not just for a season or a term. It is costly, but it is of the greatest value.
In the 23rd Psalm, David said, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil” (v. 4, NKJV). This March I will be going to the valley of the shadow of death to preach the Gospel in a nation of people who do not know Jesus Christ as their Shepherd and Savior. This valley is Sendai, Japan.
On March 11 of last year, what is now known as the Great East Japan Earthquake struck this area with a deadly magnitude of 9.0. It was the most powerful known earthquake ever to hit Japan and one of the five most powerful earthquakes in the world since modern record-keeping began. The upheaval triggered a powerful tsunami wave reaching heights of up to 130 feet in some places, a roaring wall of water that—in the Sendai area—traveled 6 miles inland. Incredibly, the earthquake moved Japan’s main island of Honshu 8 feet to the east and shifted the Earth on its axis by estimates of between 4 and 7 inches.
The devastation was so widespread that at one point over 470,000 people were living in emergency shelters, and 50,000 remain housed in evacuation centers nearly a year later. About 16,000 died in the disaster, and thousands more who were swept away have never been found.
In the city of Sendai, one of the hardest hit areas, their local stadium (known as the Grande 21 sports arena) was used as a makeshift morgue because so many had died. I was there at that time and saw it for myself. Thousands of bodies of those who had entered into eternity waited here for burial. It was a place of great sadness and grief.
One year later, we are going back to this same stadium at the invitation of Japanese churches—this time to preach the Gospel. The arena that once was a holding place for the dead will be instead a place where we are praying for thousands of souls to choose eternal life through Jesus Christ. Jesus said: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and … has passed from death into life” (John 5:24).
We’re calling this Crusade the “Celebration of Hope,” asking God to transform that stadium into a place of new life, rejoicing, and victory.
Pray with us as we travel to Japan to reach this nation with the truth of God’s love. The Psalmist David also wrote, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; … He restores my soul” (Psalm 23:1–3). There are millions who are not experiencing the truth that David knew. They live in fear of leaking radiation from damaged nuclear reactors, fear of another earthquake, fear of another deadly tsunami. But those who know Jesus Christ as their Shepherd can have the “peace of God, which transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:7, NIV).
Our prayer is that there will be a mighty harvest in Sendai as men and women put their faith and trust in the Savior, the One who will lead them to green pastures and still waters—and restore their souls.
Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains have been deployed in Japan most of the past year. Working alongside Japanese pastors and churches, they have shared the comfort and hope of Christ with local people whose lives were shattered and with the volunteers there to help.
In our own country we are entering an election year, and it is astounding to see what candidates are spending. In Iowa during the Republican caucuses, it was reported that some candidates spent more than $360 in their campaign for every vote they received. It is estimated that the president will spend about $1 billion on his re-election campaign.
Friends, that is a lot of money, but the Bible says that the value of a soul is priceless. Across the United States and around the world, at BGEA we are attempting to preach this wonderful Gospel message to as many people as possible. It is truth that can change lives for eternity, not just for a season or a term. It is costly, but it is of the greatest value. I can’t think of any better investment than supporting evangelistic work to reach lost souls with the truth of God’s love.
After the Crusade in Japan, I will be preaching in the capital city of Ghana, West Africa. Meanwhile, my son Will is leading Crusades in Texas in March, one north of Dallas/Fort Worth and another in the eastern Dallas metro area. More than 1,500 churches are involved.
Pray that the Holy Spirit of God will draw unsaved to these events, that they might hear and be saved. God works through your prayers as well as your gifts. Thank you for investing in reaching lost souls.
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