SAN DIEGO -- Christian artists Third Day and Michael W. Smith helped launch Billy Graham's Mission San Diego evangelistic campaign with a crowd of 54,000 May 8 at Qualcomm Stadium.
"It's an honor to be part of it," Third Day lead singer Mac Powell told the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Smith added patriotic fervor to the evening when he waved a large American flag on stage in support of U.S. troops.
"I love this country!" Smith shouted prior to singing "America the Beautiful."
The 84-year-old Graham, in typical fashion, turned the evening heavenward.
After a standing ovation spanning several minutes, ASSIST News Service reported that the evangelist spoke of the war in Iraq -- the San Diego area provided one-fifth of the Iraq fighting force -- the SARS epidemic, the ongoing battle against AIDS and the tornadoes that had devastated parts of the country.
"Not in my lifetime have I seen so many problems," ASSIST quoted Graham as saying.
Citing his own fragile health -- including Parkinson's disease -- and his wife Ruth's health -- she is now bedridden at their home in Montreat, N.C. -- Graham then spoke of mortality.
"All of us here are going to die," ASSIST quoted Graham as saying. "In the next 60 or 70 years, almost everybody in this stadium will be gone."
And at the end of his 30-minute sermon, again in typical fashion, Graham asked his audience to "get up out of your seats" and commit their lives to Jesus Christ.
More than 3,100 people came forward in response to Graham's invitation, ASSIST reported.
The crusade continues through Sunday.
By Albert H. Lee