900 Churches Unite for Historic Franklin Graham Festival of Hope in Bogota, Colombia
Graham Announces 2010 International Festival Schedule to Reach the Next Generation
BOGOTA, Colombia -- A few years ago Bogota, known for notorious drug cartels and violent crime, was too dangerous for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association to hold an open evangelistic event. This weekend a record 900 churches united with Franklin Graham to show a new side of the beautiful city nestled in the Andes Mountains. Crowds totaling 157,000 gathered over three days, Aug. 27-29, in Parque Simon Bolivar in Colombia's capital city for the Festival of Hope. The festival drew the largest attendance for a kids' event in the history of Franklin Graham Festivals, with an overflow crowd of 80,000 on Saturday morning. The Festival was part of an evangelistic effort to reach a younger generation that began years ago with Operation Christmas Child, the annual project of Graham's relief organization Samaritan's Purse. The project has been hand-delivering shoe box gifts to poor and neglected children in the country since 1998, including 90,000 gifts this year. During the week Graham and his team gave out shoe box gifts to children in one of the poorest parts of the city and invited them to the "Festiniños" event Saturday morning. Also paving the way to the Festival, five years ago the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association launched the My Hope television program in Colombia, which aired telecasts of the Gospel in homes across the nation. My Hope impacted thousands of lives for Jesus Christ and began the process of bringing hundreds of churches together across denominational lines for this week's Festival of Hope. During the last night of the event, and the last Festival this year, Graham remarked, "I watched as the people came forward to change and surrender their lives to Jesus Christ. I couldn't help but think about what these people have gone through in their country's recent history. Even this week, the horrific traffic and the rain couldn't stop an eternal impact on these people and this city." In the coming weeks, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association will continue to work with local churches to follow up with the thousands of new Christians who came forward during the Festival. The Festival in Bogota was the year-long culmination of Graham's vision to reach more of today's younger generation. Two weeks ago the organization wrapped up its new Rock the River events which Graham led up the Mississippi River through Baton Rouge, St. Louis, Quad Cities, and Minneapolis/St. Paul. Rock the River was an evangelistic summer concert tour featuring America's top Christian rock and hip-hop bands, reaching more than 100,000 teenagers. Graham's 2010 international Festival schedule will include events like Rock the River across Western Canada and Festivals in India, Japan, Mexico, Latvia, Atlanta and Memphis.