151,500 Gather for Franklin Graham Festival in El Salvador

Billy Graham Evangelistic Assn
Thursday, 21 March 2002

Physical Aid and Message of Hope Delivered to People in San Salvador

One year after Franklin Graham delivered aid to earthquake victims in El Salvador, he returned with another delivery -- this time, a message of spiritual hope.

Crowds totaling 151,500 gathered for the three-day evangelistic Festival led by Graham March 14-16 in San Salvador. The event was a partnership with more than 400 local churches in the city of 1.8 million people. By the final night, 6,356 people had responded to Graham's invitation to put their faith in Jesus Christ.

"Last year, when this country was hit by two devastating earthquakes, many people's lives were taken," said Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. "But no matter what happens to this country or to you, your soul is eternal. God wants your soul to live with Him for eternity."

Each night, crowds heard Graham's straightforward message, along with high-energy and inspirational music by popular Christian artists Jaci Velasquez and Marcos Vidal, acoustic guitarist Dennis Agajanian, the Gutierrez Brothers, and the California-based Tommy Coomes Praise Band. A Saturday-morning kids' event brought more than 40,000 children from the greater San Salvador area.

Gratitude from the President

Before the crowds gathered at Cuscatlán stadium, Graham was invited to El Salvador's Presidential Palace, where President Francisco Flores thanked Graham for his relief efforts in the country and for the message of hope he was bringing to the people.

Spiritual and Physical Hope

During the week, Graham and teams from Samaritan's Purse handed out a portion of some 110,000 gift-filled shoe boxes to underprivileged children in El Salvador as part of the organization's Operation Christmas Child project. In response to last year's earthquakes that killed 1,159 people and damaged or destroyed more than 270,000 homes, Samaritan's Purse, the international relief organization headed by Graham, in partnership with U.S. Agency for International Development, is providing more than $2 million in aid and rebuilding 576 permanent homes.

San Salvador, El Salvador, was the first Festival held by Graham in 2002. Additional events will be held in Gainesville, Fla. (April 12-14); College Station, Tx. (May 2-5); Spokane, Wash. (Aug. 23-25); and Mendoza, Argentina (Nov. 14-16).

For more information, or to contact Billy Graham Evangelistic Assn, see their website at: www.billygraham.org

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