Ghana Jesus Festival Goes 'Grass-Roots'
African Nation Abuzz Over Franklin Graham Festival
April 26, 2012 - When it comes to getting the word out about Franklin Graham delivering the Gospel message this weekend at Accra Sports Stadium, Ghanaians are making sure no stone is left unturned.
You can see the excitement. Especially when you talk about Billy Graham in Ghana, and now his son is coming. — Ben Sachie Christian Life and Witness coordinator
By Trevor Freeze
Now, this is what you call a media blitz.
As the final push for the Ghana Jesus Festival hits full stride, there is no medium that is off limits.
Radio. Television. Internet. Billboards. Moving billboards. Even human billboards.
"It's almost everywhere," said Enimil Ashon, Festival Chairman of Communication. "It's on cars. On radios. You've got huge billboards. Even one of the big-time pastors here gave us extra space on his billboard."
Cars with megaphones affixed to their roof have been driving around since Monday, announcing the upcoming April 28-29 Ghana Jesus Festival held at Accra Sports Stadium.
These retrofitted cars play festive music, then stop, usually in rural neighborhoods and hand out Festival fliers with key information about times and places to catch public transportation. An army of buses and vans will be deployed and these drivers are also acting as an extension of the Festival's public relations' arm.
"He will yell out the window, Do you want to come to the stadium?" said Ghana Jesus Fesvial Director Bill Kennedy. "Do you want to come to the Festival? Do you want to come to the Crusade?"
TV ads, which normally reach up to 60 percent of the population, are in full swing and billboards have been up for several weeks. Word is spreading through the website and Facebook page. Some 200 radio stations across Ghana have also been spreading the news. Some vehicles are being used as rolling billboards.
On Thursday, Ghanaians wearing two-sided Ghana Jesus Festival placards featuring a picture of Franklin Graham handed out hundreds of fliers.
"It's definitely a grass-roots approach," Kennedy said.
One component of that approach is the Tro-Tro, which according one Ghana website, is as common to this country as the pothole.
Tro-tros — bigger than a van, smaller than a bus — hold 10-12 people on average. But their impact on transporting Ghanaians to the Festival will be huge, especially in the rural areas where so few people own a car.
Other options will be bigger 60-passenger Metro buses and the traditional taxi, which are sure to be in high demand over the weekend.
"You might be the sixth person getting into a taxi for four," Kennedy said.
The vehicle coordination, while critical, will have little impact without invitations. Both through traditional and word-of-mouth advertisement, the Ghana Jesus Festival is a hot topic.
Even a flight attendant from the New York-to-Accra flight knew about the Festival.
"You can see the excitement," said Ben Sachie, Christian Life and Witness coordinator. "Especially when you talk about Billy Graham in Ghana, and now his son is coming. We're expecting a large crowd."
More than 1,200 churches in the Accra-Kasoa-Tema metro area of about 4 million people have been involved in the Festival and many of the churches have been promoting it heavily the past few Sundays.
"In my own church, there was a recorded message from Franklin Graham saying he's coming to Ghana and asking people to pray for this," Ashon said. "It's happening in almost every church."
The Ghana Jesus Festival comes just over a year after nearby Liberia drew more than 91,000 people at a similar outdoor Festival in March 2011.
Because of the stage configuration at 40,000-seat Accra Sports Stadium, unobstructed attendance will be approximately 32,000 each night, with overflow areas available in the concourse.
Dennis Agajanian, the Tommy Coomes Band, a half dozen local Christian artists, and a 1,000-plus member choir will set the stage for Franklin Graham to share the Good News of the Gospel in the same city his father, Billy Graham, preached in January of 1960.
Sachie said about 65 percent of Ghanaians attend church, but only about 12.5 percent are committed Evangelicals.
"What I'm expecting," he said, "is a revival that we've been praying for — for years."
Gates open at 4 p.m. each afternoon with the Festival beginning at 6:30 p.m. A dedication and prayer night will be held April 27.
Partner With Us
We need people like you to support us in prayer and giving each time we proclaim the Gospel. Please donate online today and play a part in reaching people around the world with the love of Christ.