Festival of Hope
It’s very late and I’m very tired, but I wanted to post a few brief thoughts about the first night of The Festival of Hope. Seeing thousands of people coming together under the name of Christ is always good. The choir and orchestra were great, and Michael W. Smith still has it! Franklin Graham gave his message, repeating a few simple themes – you are a sinner (we all are… Franklin Graham included), God loves you, and He wants to forgive you. He gave the invitation, and the field was flooded with counselors and those coming forward. He led them in the sinners’ prayer, told them they needed to be connected immediately with a local congregation, gave them a small book and then directed those who came forward to counselors to talk and pray.
We could engage in a significant discussion about this form of evangelism, but I don’t want to do that here. I just want to say that I found myself praying earnestly for those who were out on the field as well as those in the stands. Despite Franklin Graham’s urgings to get involved in a church and read, I fear that there are many who could walk away not understanding that this is a starting point in a relationship. I kept thinking about the parable of the seed that falls on different soils. I worry that there is a tendency to celebrate the numbers of decisions and forget that “making disciples” goes so much further. This is the job of the church and of all Christians. Franklin Graham may have planted a seed tonight, but it is our job as the Church to water and pull weeds so God’s Word takes root.
Please pray with me for the day after tomorrow – the day when the Festival of Hope is over and life returns to normal for the thousands that made decisions. Pray that God will grow these seeds, and rise up His Church to support these new believers.
When our kids were smaller, I used to read them the children’s book “Am I Big or Little?” It’s a cute story of a mom trying to explain to her young child that she is big in some ways, but little in others. As I ponder what to write about today, I thought about that book.
We said goodbye to our friends from Israel tonight after attending a Shabat service with them at Puławska Christian Church. We hugged and kissed, smiled and waved goodbye. Haim and I decided we didn’t want to say goodbye, so we would just say “until I see you again”. I am praying with all of my heart that the words they heard during their time in Poland will take root and those who do not have a relationship with God found Him this week. It’s hard to think that after spending 10 days together, they are returning to Israel and soon we will be back in America. We will seem so very far apart in our different cultures and parts of the globe. It’s a big world.
This evening, I reconnected with a man who was a youth minister in a sister church when I was in high school, and co-dean of camp with our youth minister when I was a counselor at Camp Allendale. He also lives next door, I found out, to my next youth minister! Now he is the director of the International Conference on Missions and is visiting Poland with his wife, sister and her husband. They will attend the Festival of Hope with us this weekend. It is so crazy to me that we would cross paths twenty-something years later in Poland. I’m also going to chat more tomorrow with his brother-in-law, who works for the hospital where we were sent when we were fighting to save our our daughter Grace. It’s a small world.
Then I think about the event we are in Warsaw to attend this weekend. The Festival of Hope is a national event expected to bring in tens of thousands of people, who will hear an evangelical message in a country where less than .1% proclaim to be evangelical Christians. As these masses come to hear the music and preaching of Franklin Graham tomorrow, please pray with me that a seed will be planted, watered or take root in each of them. It’s a big world….
…. and there are so many opportunities to make disciples.