Crowds in Korea Largest Ever For Franklin Graham Festival
There were fireworks, tens of thousands of balloons, energetic music, and a sea of families and friends covering the stadium. It had all the makings of a Korean festival—but there was something very different about why these people had gathered and were celebrating. “Tonight in heaven there will be a fireworks show greater than anything we can imagine because many lives were changed here,” said Franklin Graham at his first evangelistic Festival in Korea that drew 325,330 over four days. Held in the city of Busan, this was his largest Festival to date, surpassing the attendance at his event in Manila, Philippines in 2006. (Billy Graham’s largest Crusade was also held in Korea in 1973.) The Busan Franklin Graham Festival, held Oct. 18-21, took place at Asiad Stadium, recently used for the 2002 World Cup. Local leaders claimed the Festival to be the largest Christian event in the history of Busan. Throughout the event, 8,287 people responded to the invitation to put their faith in Jesus Christ. “In 1973 Billy Graham’s Crusade was a turning point in the spiritual history of Korea,” said the mayor of Busan to the crowd gathered for the first evening. “I believe this Festival will also be turning point for the nation and in the hearts of individuals.” Earlier in the week Graham met privately with the mayor and offered spiritual encouragement and prayer. “We’ve had two unique opportunities to care for the people of both North and South Korea recently,” said Graham, who is president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and international relief organization Samaritan’s Purse. Last month both organizations partnered in sending a 747 cargo jet with $8 million in medical supplies and aid to assist the people of North Korea following one of the worst floods in the nation’s history. The historic airlift was the first direct flight from the United States to North Korea since the Korean War. Graham added, “I hope that both our relief work and evangelistic events will build bridges to bring our nations closer, but most importantly I want people to know there is peace and hope that only God can give.” In addition to Graham’s nightly messages delivered through an interpreter, the Festival also featured diverse styles of music by local and international musicians, including a local choir comprised of 5,000 voices from across the country. Sunday afternoon, 70,000 kids gathered in the stands and spread across the filed for a fun event designed specifically for children. The Busan Franklin Graham Festival was a non-denominational effort organized through the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and supported and planned by local leaders from hundreds of churches throughout the region. Earlier this year, Graham held Festivals in Panama City, Panama; Norfolk, Va.; Binghamton, N.Y.; Kiev, Ukraine; and Guayaquil, Ecuador. In the next five weeks, Graham will hold his final two Festivals for 2007 in Tacoma, Wash. and Hong Kong.