Will Graham Celebration draws large audience

Evangelist William Graham IV, 39, returned to Central Mississippi to continue his grandfather’s legacy proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ as he led a series of worship events March 28-31, in the A.E. Wood Coliseum on the campus of Mississippi College.

Under the banner of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), efforts from the Williamson Road Bible group, and other local ministries, Graham’s outreach program brought a spiritual enlightening experience to Central Mississippi.

“We were contacted by local churches and civic leaders within the Jackson community,” said Erick Ogren, public relations executive for Will Graham. “After an event has been announced and we have  staff in the community organizing the effort, it often takes eight months to a year of very intensive work.”

Throughout the three day event, approximately 10,115 Christians were joined together in order to build a closer relationship with God. Over 460 accepted an invitation to pledge their lives to Christ. Several award-winning Christian music artists such as Matthew West, The Afters, Tedashii, Paul  Baloche, Canton Jones, and the Rhett Walker Band joined Graham on stage to celebrate the gospel.

KidzFest, a special event for children was held on the second day of the celebration featuring music from Go Fish and the Greatest Journey.

“Many of you here tonight think you’re going to Heaven because you go to church, but you’re on the path to Hell because you have never made Jesus the central part of your life and for Christ to forgive your sins,” said Graham. “Tonight you can settle it once and for all, and let Jesus take control of your life.”

BGEA, founded in 1950 has touched the lives of nearly 215 million people in more than 185 countries and territories through various international industries.

Hundreds of million more individuals have been inspired to make a personal decision to live for Christ though radio and television programs, syndicated newspapers, and Christian magazines. At a press conference Graham explained the significance of returning to Central Mississippi.

“The last time my grandfather preached here was in 1975, the year I was born,” Graham explained to reporters.

Graham is currently the vice president and associate evangelist of BGEA and the executive director of the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove in Asheville, N.C. According to BGEA, The Cove offers Christian seminars on a variety of topic featuring nationally recognized speakers.

In 2006, he celebrated the first Will Graham Crusade with the city of Leduc in Alberta, Canada. Later that year he held his first celebration In the U.S. in Gastonia, N.C. Since then, evangelistic outreach events have spiraled in six different continents around the world spreading the gospel globally.

“We only go where we are invited,” said Graham. “Before we ever accept an invitation to hold a Celebration, there are people on my staff who visit the community and report back to me on the spiritual climate of the area.”

Father of three, evangelical leader Graham oversees various youth programs such as Children and Youth Evangelism Training, Dare to Be a Daniel, The Greatest Journey, and BGEA’s new Distance Learning Program, which uses the internet to teach people how to share their faith.

“Tonight is going to be the best time of your life,” Graham said to the swarm of young people as they streamed down the aisles to receive the gospel.

Earlier this year, the Will Graham Celebration followed outreaches in Sri Lanka and Japan. Graham is scheduled to travel to Australia to preach the gospel in Broken Hill, New South Wales in May, following a fellowship with Christ in Mount Hagen, Papua New Guinea.

For more details on upcoming crusades and outreach programs go to http://billygraham.org/

– Kandace Farmer, Contributing Writer

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