HONG KONG, Dec. 3, 2007 -- Last weekend 423,335 people, 800 churches, seven locations, six events, four days, and one message: “God loves Hong Kong.” It was Franklin Graham’s largest evangelistic event to date, but numbers only tell part of the story as overflow crowds participated in the Hong Kong Franklin Graham Festival.
“I have a common history with China,” said Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and international Christian relief organization Samaritan’s Purse. “My mother was born in China, my grandparents were medical missionaries here, and I’ve been traveling here for more than 30 years, so this country has a special place in my heart. I love the people of China. I love this great city, but most importantly God loves you, and you can know the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.”
Graham visited Hong Kong at the invitation of local pastors, leaders, and churches representing multiple denominations. The four-day Festival (Nov. 29 – Dec 2), held in Cantonese and English, drew so many people to Hong Kong Stadium that four separate overflow locations with jumbo screens were needed. In addition to the crowds on Hong Kong Island, thousands more participated in the Festival via live remote broadcast in the neighboring city Macau and Yuen Long Stadium in the New Territories.
Each day, crowds heard Graham’s simple Gospel message of hope and forgiveness through Jesus, along with music by local and international artists. By the final night of the Festival, 33,464 people responded to the invitation to put their faith in Jesus Christ.
On Friday afternoon, Will Graham, Franklin’s oldest son, spoke to 40,650 youth at a special event at the stadium geared toward teens. Will recently began holding his own evangelistic events called Celebrations, but this marked this first time Will joined one of his father’s events. The Festival also featured a Saturday afternoon event for children that drew 38,000.
While in Hong Kong, Franklin Graham met with Chief Executive Donald Tsang, the highest ranking government official in the city. Graham also recently received an official invitation from the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, China Christian Counsel and the China Association for International Friendly Contact to go to the People’s Republic of China in 2008 to meet with local church leaders.
During the week, teams from Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association provided 12,000 book bags filled with much-needed school supplies for underprivileged children in the New Territories part of Hong Kong where many immigrants from the mainland settle looking for work.
Thousands of churches and volunteers in eight cities on four continents helped organize a record-breaking year of Festivals. Preceding Hong Kong, Graham held his largest Festival to date in Busan, Korea with 325,330 attending. Six other Festivals were held this year in Panama City, Panama; Norfolk, Va.; Binghamton, N.Y.; Kiev, Ukraine; Guayaquil, Ecuador, and Tacoma, Wash. The location line-up for the 2008 Festivals include: Ireland, Taiwan, Mexico, Romania, Las Vegas, Knoxville, Tenn. and Charleston, S.C.
[Press Release of BGEA]