Five Reflections on the OKC Good News Festival with Franklin Graham
- God will use anyone who will be used by Him.
The festival this past weekend would never have happened if it were not for a Deer Creek public school bus driver by the name of Joe Rainbolt. Joe prayed for years as he saw kids get on his bus for their safety and their souls. Watching through his bus mirror he personally saw the need for change in their life, for them to have the good news of Jesus that he had. Joe’s first prayer was for the salvation of our generation of young people. I know this, for Joe has been telling me this for four years. Joe began praying and then doing the things that needed to be done to get Franklin Graham here in Oklahoma City.
Allow me to expand on this, for there are many, many teens and adults who invited others who need Christ to this event. Because of their invitation, the lives of these were changed for eternity. A simple invite is all it took. What if believers in Christ would do this for their own church? Just invite those they know to come with them to their church. The attendance and impact of their own congregation would potentially double overnight. We should all be more like Philip who said to Nathanael about Jesus to just, “Come and see” (John 1:46).
- Perseverance pays off later, and the payoff is much sweeter.
Joe endured the skepticism of envisioning such an event. He endured the closed doors. He kept on praying and knocking on more doors. He personally set up appointments with community leaders, church leaders, denominational leaders and pastors. Some wouldn’t respond; some were lukewarm about the idea and others were supportive. It didn’t matter to Joe because he was just going to do what God put in his heart. They say the proof of the pudding is in the tasting. This pudding is really sweet; about 550 souls sweet, plus the online decisions, plus the Christian community energized, encouraged and trained!
- The BGEA is not about the BGEA.
The Billy Graham Evangelism Association, which put on the Good News Festival, is about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. They are not about a Baptist Jesus or a Catholic Jesus or any other kind of Jesus. They are about Jesus, the Son of God. Period. The BGEA is not about themselves. They don’t promote themselves. They promote Christ. We all heard this over and over again from Franklin and from his staff in many ways. But they do promote the local church as well. They have come in and trained the members of churches all over Oklahoma City in personal Bible Study skills, prayer, how to share their faith and how to help new believers to grow. That alone may be the greatest and longest lasting imprint they have made. I know in our church, our staff tried to motivate all of our people to go through the Christian Life and Witness Training. Many did and were blessed. Others just didn’t want to. I know this because the BGEA made it available that anyone who really wanted the training could get it, even online.
- The humility of Franklin Graham
I was privileged this year to hear Mr. Graham in three settings. One of these was in conversation and prayer as part of a small group of ordained clergy. What spoke to me, as I reflect on these meetings, especially on the more personal one is the humble demeanor of Franklin Graham. He recognized that God’s use of him is not because he is the son of Billy Graham. He recognized that he is, by the grace of God, a son of God. God, the Father of Jesus Christ is responsible for who Franklin Graham is and what he can do. He knows that what he does must have the power of God behind it, or it will just be another religious event put on by religious people. There is a certain integrity that is refreshing to me. I hate to say it, but we pastors could use more of that in our lives. I think that we have become so enamored by celebrity that we have lost the power of God in the elevation of man.
- The professionalism of the BGEA local and national staff
Our local BGEA staff did a wonderful job. They never took their eyes off the goal and continually labored and did whatever it took to make this happen. The local staff office was helpful, kind and always supportive. They really did bend over backwards to help in any way. The same can be said for the national staff. Their experience brought credibility to the whole project.
My only wish was that, while we were involved in the Festival, we would have had more involvement. Our church was blessed by this event before the event even happened. We are thankful to all who helped this vision of a festival become a reality.