North Central Florida Festival with Franklin Graham Begins

Billy Graham Evangelistic Assn
Saturday, 13 April 2002

After seven years of praying and many months of planning, North Central Florida Festival 2002 with Franklin Graham held its opening meeting at the University of Florida's O'Connell Center.

The crowd of 9,500 people heard music from Crystal Lewis and Michael W. Smith. In addition to his musical numbers, Michael W. Smith also treated Festival-goers to a moving recitation of Psalm 139.

A special guest to the Festival, Shannon Spann, told the heart-wrenching story of how she recently lost her husband, Mike Spann, a CIA agent who was killed in Afghanistan after 9/11.

"When I heard the news that Mike was missing, I prayed from that day until now that God would give me something each day that would be for eternal value," said Mrs. Spann. "I don't think there's anything that focuses your mind more on eternity than losing someone whom you love."

In his message, Franklin Graham put Mrs. Spann's statement into a question: "Is your end near? Are you ready to stand before a holy God? None of us know when our life will come to and end -- we must be ready." Graham emphasized that we do not get to heaven because we earn favor with God by doing good things: "It's by God's grace and faith in His Son Jesus Christ."

After Graham's invitation for people come forward to pray and ask Jesus into their lives, one teen-aged girl shared that she had recently lost two friends in a car accident. She said she wanted to be sure she knew where she would be when she died. More than 400 others also registered decisions to commit their lives to Christ.

North Central Florida Festival 2002 continues through the weekend, featuring musical guests Delirious and Jaci Velasquez on Saturday and Kirk Franklin, Nicole C. Mullen, and Steve Grace on Sunday.

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

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