Gospel Season About to Break Ground
Good News to Hit 6 Countries, 4 Continents in 2012
February 8, 2012 - Starting with the Celebration of Hope in Sendai, Japan, in less than a month, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association is bracing for a busy 2012, spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ to six countries on four continents. And we need your help.
By Trevor Freeze
For those excited about where the Good News of the Gospel will be traveling this year through the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, here are two words:
In the year 2012, we will cover tens of thousands of miles across four continents, five U.S. cities and six countries in a seven-month span.
One week before the anniversary of the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the first evangelistic outreach is sure to be an emotional one as the Tohoku Celebration of Hope will be held in Sendai, Japan.
“Pray for us as we go to Japan this year. This is not going to be easy,” said Franklin Graham, president and CEO of BGEA. “This is going to be tough, because this is not just a Crusade or a Festival. This is really kind of a one-year anniversary memorial service, and we pray that the hearts of the Japanese people will be open to receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
The schedule wraps up in late September in Ottawa, which is where Billy Graham held his last international Crusade.
“Ottawa is a small town in terms of (evangelical) churches,” said Tom Phillips, vice president of Crusade Ministries. “But they had 143 church leaders at the first meeting. The committee was very encouraged with the turnout. It was a vibrant time with powerful testimonies.”
In between the Sendai and Ottawa events, BGEA will hold international Franklin Graham Festivals in Accra, Ghana; Budapest, Hungary and Riga, Latvia. A concentrated effort to share Christ around the Great Lakes region has led to four two-day evangelistic events: Rock the Lakes in Rochester, Green Bay and Buffalo, and Rock the River in Ottawa.
A recent study shows that approximately 41 million people live within 50 miles of the Great Lakes.
“And 9 million of them are age 19 and under,” Phillips said. “It’s really an unreached area of evangelism.”
Will Graham, son of Franklin Graham and grandson of Billy Graham, will hold two back-to-back Texas Celebrations in March in two cities on the outskirts of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.
Here’s a quick snapshot of where BGEA is headed this year and where your ministry support dollars will be spreading the eternal hope that can only be found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ:
Sendai, Japan: March 2-4, 2012: Nearly a year after the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami killed more than 15,000 people, this coastal region is still reeling. Franklin Graham will deliver a message of hope at Sendai’s Grande 21 Super Arena, which was used as a national morgue during the disaster.
Gainesville, Texas: March 16-18, 2012: The Red River Will Graham Celebration marks a return to Texas, four years after Will Graham’s Burleson, Texas, Celebration drew more than 16,000 in 2008.
Terrell, Texas: March 23-25, 2012: The Trinity Valley Will Graham Celebration will take place 100 miles south of Gainesville, Texas, at the 1,500-seat Terrell ISD Performing Arts Center in the southeast Dallas suburb. “I know God will do some amazing things across the region,” Graham said.
Accra, Ghana: April 28-29, 2012: In January of 1960, Billy Graham preached in Accra, as part of an 11-country Crusade tour. Franklin Graham returns to West Africa a year after more than 13,000 made decisions for Christ at the All-Liberia Festival in Monrovia in March 2011.
Budapest, Hungary: June 1-3, 2012: Returning to the city that hosted Billy Graham Crusades to overflow crowds in 1985 and 1989, Franklin Graham will proclaim the Gospel at the Reménység Fesztivál in the 12,500-seat László Papp Budapest Sports Arena. “There’s great enthusiasm in Budapest,” Phillips said.
Riga, Latvia: June 9, 2012: Feeding off the momentum from Festivals the past three years in Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, the one-day Baltic Youth Festival will include all three countries and a lineup of high-octane Christian bands. Franklin Graham will be proclaiming the Gospel to a region with some of the world’s highest youth suicide rates.
Rochester, NY: June 16-17, 2012: When Billy Graham preached for eight days here in 1988, it marked the peak year for the Kodak Eastman company, which recently went bankrupt and has left the town struggling economically. “Our challenge is to encourage hope in a time of economic doubt,” Rock the Lakes Rochester Director Robert Tatum said.
Green Bay, WI: August 18-19, 2012: It’s perhaps the NFL’s most legendary franchise, but Green Bay is also the only professional football city that never hosted a Billy Graham Crusade. Franklin Graham will bring the Gospel to the land of cheese for a two-day Rock the Lakes Festival.
Buffalo, NY: September 22-23, 2012: Continuing with its mission of reaching the Great Lakes region, BGEA will hold a second upstate-New York Rock the Lakes event, this one in the city where over 600 churches united to host the Greater Buffalo-Niagara Billy Graham Crusade in 1988.
Ottawa, Ontario: September 29-30, 2012: Since his first Canadian Festival in 1989, Franklin Graham has preached the Gospel 13 times in Canada, including last year in Winnipeg. Rock the River Ottawa marks a return to the city that hosted Billy Graham’s last international Crusade in 1998.
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