Thousands Turn to Christ During Franklin Graham Festival

Durban, South Africa ?The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) recently held the Thekwini Festival 2004 with Franklin Graham at ABSA Stadium in Durban, South Africa, March 12-14, 2004. The Thekwini Festival, Franklin Graham's 100th evangelistic crusade, saw a total attendance of 47,128, and more than 2,400 people made decisions for Christ.

Throughout the weekend, and in the months of preparation leading up to the Festival, an atmosphere of unity in Christ emerged as an overarching theme. The Festival drew many from Durban's Umlazi Township, which at two million-plus is one of the most populous townships in South Africa. Three of Umlazi's fellowship groups for ministers (called ministers' fraternals) worked together more closely than ever before, representing about 100 churches from the township. A total of more than 400 churches in and around Durban participated in Festival preparations.

Throughout the meetings, Graham spoke of societal troubles and brought them into personal focus. Racism, sexual impropriety, terrorism; they all stem from sin in individual hearts. And each of us has barriers in our hearts that keep us from God. "Whatever the obstacles are, you come to Jesus tonight. Don't let anything hold you back, because God loves you!"

Graham's point throughout the weekend was simple: "God loves you, and He sent His Son from heaven on a rescue mission for your soul."

Each night, hundreds responded to the call. Sunday night, as people made their way to the front, crusade director Martin McCrory expressed his joy. "This was the goal in mind all the time. It's awe-inspiring to see the wonder-working of the Spirit of God, drawing people from great distances, all around this stadium. It gives a beautiful sense of God's love."

Speaking on the story of Nicodemus from John 3:15, Graham addressed life's difficulties. "Today, many of you are troubled by alcohol, drugs, problems at school, maybe an unplanned pregnancy or maybe your home is breaking apart," said Graham on Sunday night. "Jesus is the answer ... Maybe like Nicodemus, you wish you could come to Jesus. You can come." And by the grace of God, thousands did.

Kenneth Chan