Franklin Graham Festival in Ecuador the Largest Evangelical Event in Nation's History
Previous Record Set at 2006 Graham Festival in Quito, Ecuador
Last year Franklin Graham led the largest evangelical event in Ecuador’s history drawing more than 140,000 people in Quito. This weekend the record was broken again as 185,674 overflowed Guayaquil’s Alberto Spencer Stadium for the Festival of Hope. “Each time we go to a different city we have no idea how many people will come, if the weather will be a problem, or how many lives will be changed,” said Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. “But God knows and we are humbled to just be a part of the impact He had on this city – it was more than we could have imagined.” By the final night of the Festival, 16,117 people had responded to the invitation to put their faith in Jesus Christ. Hundreds of local churches and thousands of volunteers partnered with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association to hold the event. Each night, crowds heard Graham’s straightforward message about hope and forgiveness and energetic Latin music by local and international artists, including Spaniard Marcos Vidal, Lilly Goodman from the Dominican Republic, Marcos Witt, guitarist Dennis Agajanian with the Gutierrez brothers and Monte Gaylord, and the California-based Tommy Coomes Band. Also, Saturday morning, 46,419 kids packed the stadium for “Festiniños,” a program of fun drama and music that teaches children about God’s love. Earlier in the week, Graham, who also heads the international Christian relief organization Samaritan’s Purse, joined teams handing out some of the 90,000 gift-filled shoe boxes to underprivileged children in Ecuador as part of the organization’s Operation Christmas Child project. Graham visited children living in one of Guayaquil’s most impoverished areas, and for some of these kids it was the only gift they have ever received. These gifts are among 7.8 million shoe box gifts given to needy children in 95 countries this year. Samaritan’s Purse is also working in Ecuador to build 100 houses for victims of the Tungurahua volcano eruption. The organization is also feeding 1,500 children a day and has provided medical care for more than 50,000 people. Earlier this year, Graham led Festival’s in Panama City, Panama; Norfolk, Va.; Binghamton, N.Y.; and Kiev, Ukraine. The remaining 2007 events will be in Busan, Korea (Oct. 18-21); Tacoma, Wash. (Nov. 2-4); and Hong Kong, China (Nov. 29–Dec. 2).