Dr. Billy Graham is well known for preaching to large audiences in large venues. It started in 1957 when his first crusade in New York City nationally recognized him as the forerunner for evangelical speakers. On Friday June 24 through Sunday June 26, the Greater New York Billy Graham Crusade, in Flushing Meadows “will be the last in America,” states Dr. Graham. His assistants said that his goal is to speak to "the entire world, every ethnic group."
Rev. Billy Graham, the leader of the evangelical movement that brought the message of salvation to over 210 million people in 185 countries was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, prostate cancer, and hydrocephalus, or fluid on the brain. Moreover, because of a pelvic fracture last year, Graham has been using a walker.
At a press conference, however, Rev. Graham was speaking about the promise of heaven and looked at all the photographers that surrounded him, and said, ”I hope I’ll see all of you there. And bring your cameras,” showing that he hasn’t lost his sense of humor.
Moreover, Rev. Graham has no fear of death but rather he “looks forward to death, and seeing God face-to face.”
Although his powerful voice has softened over the years and his hearing is fading, his statements remain simple and strong. He claims that his messages are the same, even though circumstances change, man does not change and the gospel doesn’t change either.
Volunteers from over a thousand churches and denominations in the New York area have been organizing this Greater New York event. It will be is free admission to the public, according to AP.
Originally, this week’s crusade was set for Madison Square Garden, where Rev. Graham’s legendary 1957 conference was held, but because this is Mr. Graham’s final crusade many are expected to attend, therefore, a larger arena was needed. In Flushing Meadows, 70,000 people can be seated and more.
Moreover, churches in London are still requesting that he hold one more conference in November.
At this event, Rev. Graham intends to focus on the message of the gospel. He made the comment saying that, “At my age, I have one message and that is that Jesus Christ came; he died on the cross; he rose again and he asks us to repent of our sins,”
His hopes, at this conference, are to unite the different people that are expected to attend and hope that they will unite in hearing the gospel.
This weekend, Rev. Graham plans to preach for an estimated 35 minutes at each of the three scheduled mass meetings. If anything should happen, Franklin, his son and head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), will stand by as a backup preacher.
However, Mr. Graham has every intention of preaching at all times because he believes that when he stands up and touches the podium, the Holy Spirit comes and empowers him, and he would not even consider preaching for three nights without absolute dependence on the Lord and the thousands of people who support and pray for him.
A specially designed pulpit will allow Mr. Graham a seat if he feels tired.
Because there are languages ranging from Urdu to Cantonese, 10,000 headsets will be ready to translate Graham's sermons into 20 languages at this event. John Sowers, language coordinator, states, "It's shocking how diverse this city is."
One pastor from First Baptist Church in Flushing, Rev. Henry Kwan said that, "A lot of folks from overseas come from a more simplistic background. When they come to America, for many of them it's the first time they're exposed to genuine freedom. Because of this exposure and this openness, they grab the opportunity and take up, to me, a sincere and genuine evangelical faith,”
AP stated on Tuesday that a book will be published in August, by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Group USA, entitled, "Living in God's Love: The New York Crusade." It will chronicle Rev. Graham’s remarkable ministry, including important messages from his historical New York crusades and this upcoming revival, according to Joel Fotinos, penguin’s director of religious publishing.