A New Letter from Franklin Graham
March 20, 2012 - Millions of people today live their lives “having no hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12). And every day, people die without Christ.
Japan has few Christians relative to its large population, and northwest Japan has fewer than most other parts of the country. Churches in Sendai typically average less than 30 in attendance, so it was a wonderful answer to prayer and brought great joy to Japanese Christians when nearly 12,000 people attended the Festival of Hope to hear the Gospel. The final meeting was the largest Christian gathering ever in that region of Japan.
We held the Crusade in the Grande 21 arena, a sports complex that had served as a temporary morgue after last year’s disaster. Many Christians asked God to transform the stadium—which had been a place for families to come and seek their dead—into a place where people found new life. God answered. Hundreds made decisions for Christ, and we give God the thanks and all the glory.
Members of one family said that they decided to attend the Crusade for a simple reason—after the tragedy, it was the military and Christians who came to help, and Christians were still there a year later, volunteering, rebuilding, and providing encouragement. That made them want to learn more about the Gospel.
I believe that God may be bringing a turnaround for the churches of Japan. The Bible says, “He … opens their ear by adversity” (Job 36:15, ESV). Before the disaster, the churches were not united. But one of the pastors told me, “Today the church is one.”
Two business owners in Sendai, neither of them followers of Christ, had formed a nonprofit community development organization to help their home city. Both suffered significant loss during the disaster. Though Buddhists, they decided to help the local churches promote the Crusade because they felt it would bring hope to the struggling area. Using their own time, money and resources, they advertised the Christian event and urged people to attend.
The night before the Crusade, one of the men explained that he wasn’t fully familiar with the Christian faith and wasn’t sure what to expect. “If there is a revelation from Jesus or a miracle at the event,” he said, “I think many hearts will be opened.”
He never expected the miracle to happen to him. At the Saturday night meeting, as he listened to the music, the testimonies, and the preaching, the “gospel came to [him] not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction” (1 Thessalonians 1:5). He walked forward to declare his faith in Jesus Christ. “I had great guilt, and I needed to be forgiven by God,” he said after talking and praying with a counselor. To his surprise and delight, the Buddhist businessman who had partnered with him also responded to the Gospel the same night.
Pray for the new believers in Sendai and for the churches across Japan, and pray also for us. Delegations from four other cities—Tokyo, Hiroshima, Sapporo, and Fukuoka—came and requested Crusades during the next couple of years. I believe the Lord has opened up a door for effective ministry in that country, and we need His wisdom and His provision as we respond.
As this letter is being posted, my son Will is in the middle of two Crusade events in the Dallas, Texas, area. Although Dallas–Fort Worth is home to three major seminaries and eight of America’s largest megachurches, only about a fourth of those living in the region attend an evangelical church. Large numbers of people there have never really heard and understood the Gospel.
Pray that those who respond in “repentance toward God and … faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21) will find a church home, grow in their walk with the Lord, and begin to share their faith with others.
In April, I am headed to Ghana, West Africa, for a Crusade in the capital city of Accra. After that I will preach the Gospel in two European cities—first in Budapest, Hungary, and then at a youth evangelistic Crusade in Riga, Latvia.
Immediately afterward, I’ll return to the United States for Rock the Lakes, a multi-city series of evangelistic events in America’s Great Lakes region, beginning in Rochester, New York.
Millions of people today live their lives “having no hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12). And every day, people die without Christ. At BGEA, we work to proclaim the Gospel to those who have not heard, because God “desires all people to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4). Thank you for being a part of this ministry through your prayers and your giving.