Just two hours before the Taipei Franklin Graham Festival officially began, influential evangelist Franklin Graham met with the Taiwan's president Ma Ying-jeou at the president's office in Taipei. During their conversation, Graham talked about Christian faith and the cross-strait relationship between China and Taiwan. They shared a heart-felt conversation. After which, Graham presented President Ma a Chinese Bible and gave a prayer of blessing.
Along with BGEA Asia regional director, Taiwan committee director, TFGF chairperson, vice chair, executive director, and program coordinator visited Taiwan's president, Ma Ying-jeou, at 4 p.m. on Oct. 30.
President Ma shared that because of the international financial crisis, Taiwan is suffering economically, so he welcomes Graham in sharing the gospel at the festival and comforting the people's spirits. He also said that Graham's contour resembles that of his father, Rev. Billy Graham, so he must carry the same blood and passion of an evangelist. The president welcomes Graham to visit Taiwan frequently.
Graham shared that because his mother grew up in China at an young age, so he has a special sentiment towards teh Chinese people. This year, he visited for the first time Beijing, Nanjing, and he preached at a church in Hangzhou, during which the Sichuan earthquake took place. Immediately after the earthquake, Samaritan's Purse, a ministry under his leadership, transported disaster relief efforts by a 747 cargo plane to the disaster-stricken area. He has recommended that the Chinese government to open up the church diligently, so more people who have wounds in their hearts can attend church.
Speaking in fluent English, President Ma shared that Taiwan also had its share of earthquake relief training when the 921 Earthquake took place several years ago, so they were able to provide help towards the Sichuan earthquake relief efforts. In his presidential inauguration speech, President Ma has announced the role that Taiwan will play in the cross-strait relationship: a peacemaker.
In response to President Ma's reconciliatory position, Graham said that Jesus came to this world and was crucified on the cross for mankind's sins; he is the true peacemaker between God and men, so every Christian should be peacemakers.
Towards the end of the visitation, Graham presented President Ma with a book about Rev. Billy Graham's evangelism history and a Chinese Bible, and Rev. Chou-shen Chu also presented a Chinese-English devotional book to Taiwan's president. Then, Graham and the pastoral group together prayed for blessings for President ma, asking God to give him wisdom and peace.
According to TFGF executive director Rev. James Chung-Chien Shia, Graham was going to read the Bible verse from Matthew 6:33 when he presented the Bible to the president, but because he had such a good conversation with the president and he went passed the time and was not able to read it.
[Editor's note: reporter Ian Hwang in Taipei contributed to this report.]