Great Lakes Celebration with Ralph Bell Brings Change to Windsor

Billy Graham Evangelistic Assn
Monday, 3 June 2002

Despite the Heat, 15,457 Come to Hear Message of Hope Presented by Billy Graham Associate

The Great Lakes Celebration concluded last night as a crowd of over 3,600 heard Billy Graham Associate Evangelist, Dr. Ralph Bell, wrap up a four night area-wide evangelistic outreach program. Area business and church leaders, who worked to bring the event to the community, said that the Celebration would have a far-reaching effect on Windsor Essex area for years to come.

The Celebration event, which was held at the Windsor Arena, May 31-June 2, was the culmination of three years of prayer and planning on the part of many area church and business leaders. Men and women from many different churches and communities worked together on the various committees of the Celebration to make the event a reality. More than 100 churches from various denominations participated in the Celebration process, which included hundreds of committee volunteers. An official count of 15,457 for the four nights was an indication of the interest and participation among many of the communities.

Mark Crozet who served as the Vice Chair of Finance said that he felt the area of prayer and unity amongst the Church greatly impacted Windsor and brought success to the Celebration. Mark said that the timing of the Celebration was "perfect." He went on to say the "city is in a time of crisis. There is a real need for all to seek and find Christ."

The simple message of salvation through Jesus Christ, which Dr. Bell shared each evening, was met with great interest and acceptance as at least 667 recorded inquirers responded, indicating a desire to know more about the peace, hope and salvation promised through faith in Christ.

Rev. David Pistagnesi said, "It was a joy each night to witness the fruit of our labors as hundreds of people were touched by the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to experience the Celebration of just how good and how pleasant it was for us to dwell together in unity. We believe that it is of utmost importance for us to protect what God has done in us. What the Holy Spirit is working in the body here, he is doing all over the Christian world. He is calling the pastors of all the different churches in the cities to work together as one, that the world might know that God truly sent His son."

The opening night crowd of more than 2,600 heard Dr. Ralph Bell speak to them from Matthew 27:22 where Pilate says, "What shall I do then with Jesus?" Bell said we have three questions we must ask ourselves: "What does Jesus offer me? What have others done? What is my obligation?" The challenge was given to those present, "What will YOU do with Jesus?" The long-time Billy Graham associate evangelist has been conducting evangelistic events all over the world for some thirty-six years. The response of those who came forward was the result of his faithfulness in sharing the Gospel in a clear, concise way to those in need.

Friday evening was Family Night. Canadian born country music artist Paul Brandt was the featured music guest along with his wife Liz. Paul shared how he met Liz at a church where they were both performing "and one year later we got married." Also performing was soloist Walter Arties of Southern California, the musical group Ekklesia, and the mass Celebration choir, made up of some 300-400 volunteers from all around the area. Billy Graham team member, Tom Bledsoe, who also directed the program each evening, led the choir. Ralph Bell's message was about marital "Bliss or Blisters."

A special Saturday morning program for children called, "Kids Fest", featured nationally known puppeteer/ventriloquist and evangelist, Lesha Campbell and her puppets. Lesha used the personalities of each of her puppets to communicate a message of love and acceptance to the more than 1,500 children and parents who gathered at the Windsor Arena for this special event. There were over 208-recorded inquirers. Earlier in the week, Lesha and her "friends" visited nine area schools to present school assemblies on "character, respect and responsibility" to over 4,000 children ranging from grades K-8.

Saturday evening - Off the Hook Student Night featured the contemporary Christian musical group, TobyMac, combining hip-hop, rap, rock, pop and R&B influences to deliver his own style of God music. The popular youth speaker, Steve Russo, of Southern California was host to pre-service activities. Dr. Bell then spoke to the crowd of over 4,300 young people and challenged them to ask themselves, "Who is Jesus Christ?" and "Is He in their lives?" Some 194 commitments were made at the Saturday night event.

An effort was made to reach out to everyone in the area -- even those who could not attend the Celebration in person. Special prison services were held throughout the week. Real-life cowboy, Brent Smith, shared his testimony of what God can do with a "no-good cowboy" when he turned his life over to Jesus Christ. In Smith's words, "If God can save me, He can save anybody! No one is too far gone for God to reach." Former rock musician, Jimmy Mamou, also shared his testimony with many different prison audiences during Celebration week. Dozens of inmates made commitments for Christ at the various prison services.

Ms. Helena Penner, office manager for the Great Lakes Celebration stated, "The unity I experienced in the body of Christ here in Windsor encouraged me greatly. The level of excellence I witnessed from the Billy Graham Associate staff was refreshing. I know why they have a great name behind them."

Local businessman, Mr. Brian Postlethwaite, who served on the Counseling and Follow-Up committee for the Celebration stated, "Three people asked me where we were going next. I explained to them that I was from the local area. This is the greatest compliment I've received. They didn't see the team. I guess we did our job well."

Dr. Bell's remaining Celebration event for this year is Rogers, Arkansas, July 18-21.

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

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