Four Rivers Will Graham Celebration
“A Life Changing Experience”
Overflow crowds of 5,700 packed the final service of the Four Rivers Will Graham Celebration at the Paducah Expo Center Sunday, bringing the three-day event attendance to 15,100. A total of 182 came forward during the Celebration (Sept. 14-16) to make a personal decision for Jesus Christ. Will Graham is the grandson of Billy Graham and the son of Franklin Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. He was joined for his second United States Celebration by award-winning musicians Nicole C. Mullen, Tree63, TAIT, and Paducah native Steven Curtis Chapman. Paducah’s own Reunion Mass Choir, as well as Gospel legends Cliff Barrows and George Beverly Shea (both of whom have traveled with Will’s grandfather Billy Graham for years), also entertained the audiences. On Saturday morning, children’s group GoFish headlined KidzFest. The special event featured puppets, clowns, face painting and inflatable houses and slides. Approximately 2,500 children and parents attended KidzFest, with 104 coming forward in response to the Gospel message. Prior to the opening service on Friday, Sept. 14, Will Graham, Cliff Barrows, and George Beverly Shea were presented with the Kentucky Colonel Award for their “exceptional efforts to enrich the lives of Kentuckians and the world at large.” At the ceremony, Barrows said, “Our love [for Kentucky] began 62 years ago with Billy. We have had four Crusades in Kentucky and have been here for many conferences.” Referring to Will, he stated, “He’s a man with a burden on his heart and a passion in his soul to preach the Gospel.” Will continuously challenged the audiences during his messages at the Celebration, reminding them that only God has the answers for today’s problems. “Some of you are trying everything to fill that void in your life, but that void cannot be filled here on earth.” He continued, “Jesus went to the cross for our sake, not His sake. That’s how much He loves you …If you were the only one, God still would have sent His Son to die for you.” Looking back over the past year of preparations and the weekend Celebration, Ron Beaton, chairman of the Four Rivers Celebration executive committee, stated, “I can honestly say it’s been one of the highlights of my life. Making many new friendships and working with so many people for a common goal has been a blessing I will never forget.” Sidney Crowell, vice chair of the Four Rivers Celebration executive committee, added, “The Four Rivers Will Graham Celebration has been a life changing experience. God’s hand was on it from the very beginning. I give Him all the praise for the new relationships among believers and churches, but most of all for the new believers in Jesus Christ. Even though the actual Celebration event is over, the eternal benefits will live on.” Will Graham will now turn his attention to the Central Alberta Will Graham Celebration in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada, Sept. 28-30, 2007, and the Greater Knox County Will Graham Celebration in Mount Vernon, Ohio, Oct. 5-7, 2007.