A Counselor’s Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Good News Festival with Franklin Graham
After well over a year of prayer and preparation it was finally here –the weekend of Oklahoma City’s Good News Festival at the Chesapeake Arena. I’ve been in the arena many times before, but this time it was different. Almost like electricity, there was excitement and expectancy in the air. We were told that there were prayer teams from all over the world praying for this event, and it was evident that God’s Spirit was there already working in the hearts of those who would attend.
Hundreds of volunteers arrived hours in advance to take their place for this two-day event. Some were ushers, some organized literature, some praying and some prepared to counsel. My husband and I took our places. I lined up in a separate area in a line clearly marked for Women’s Counselors. My husband was assigned to greet counselors, placing them in groups and assigning groups to sections of the arena.
Last spring, along with many other Christians across the city, we enrolled in the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s Life and Witness course. This free three-night training has been taught all over the world. It helps Christians reignite their faith and equips them to share their faith in daily life and as counselors during the Festival. After completing the course, securing a pastoral reference and completing the application, I received my badge by mail to serve as a counselor.
After going through the line, my group proceeded to our assigned section of the arena. It was a pleasure to meet other like-minded people from various evangelical denominations who were all there for the same purpose – to lead people to Christ. We prayed over each seat in our section asking God that each and every person would know for certain that they have eternal life. Of all the thousands of people entering the arena, I wondered who God would place me with to counsel.
Each service took on its own distinct personality. Saturday’s event, designed for youth, literally shook the foundation of the arena. Popular bands, deafening noise, powerful testimonies and a clear explanation of the Gospel by Franklin Graham filled the program. Youth responded enthusiastically to the message of God’s love for them, His specific plan for their life, His forgiveness and offer of eternal life.
I slipped out of my seat and made my way to the very front of the brightly-lit arena floor where I was paired with Lori. Lori is 34 years old, and I could tell from her appearance that life had been hard. She was visibly broken over her sin and eager to get her life right with God. I reviewed the Gospel with her – that we have all sinned, that Jesus died on the cross to forgive our sin, that He rose from the dead and is ready to forgive if we’ll just receive Him. With tears in her eyes, she prayed to accept Christ in her life saying, “I need to and I want to”. This sweet lady went away with the peace that she was right with God.
Sunday’s event, geared to families, was complete with bands, testimonies, a massive state-wide Oklahoma choir and a clear Gospel message from Franklin. At the invitation, I was paired with a sweet 13-year-old girl who had just moved from out-of-state to a rural town in Oklahoma. She and her family had been attending First Baptist Church. I could tell the seeds of the Gospel had been planted and watered there. The message from Franklin brought in the harvest. I reviewed the Gospel with her, and she invited Christ into her heart.
There are many things in life that bring joy and satisfaction, but nothing compares to the joy and peace of knowing that your sins are forgiven and that you will go to Heaven when you die. And nothing compares to leading others to have that same assurance. In all of life, this is the most important thing. If you are not absolutely certain that you have eternal life and are interested in learning more, I urge you to go to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s website http://peacewithgod.net/.