More than 10,000 people from England and Wales poured into London's ExCeL convention center Saturday to hear evangelist Franklin Graham deliver the life-changing message of the gospel as part of his "God Loves You Tour" that includes stops in two major cities.
Christian artists CeCe Winans, Michael W. Smith and the Newsboys performed at the event, which was capped with a message from Graham about Jesus and life's purpose. Nearly 1,000 area churches partnered with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, the sponsor.
"A lot of people are here tonight that have been searching and looking and trying to find meaning and purpose to what their life is all about," Graham said Saturday night. "But I'm here to say to you tonight, 'God loves you. He loves you.' He sent His Son from heaven to this earth to take your sins, He died and shed His blood on a cross for your sins. And on the third day, God raised his Son, Jesus Christ to life."
Steve Johnson, a local resident and a volunteer for the event, said he believes people today are searching for meaning in a world of empty promises. Johnson was an atheist before he became a Christian three decades ago. Today, he does street ministry.
"I've seen things go from a very cynical, secular mindset and gradually change, especially with this younger generation that's been saturated with social media," he said, according to a Billy Graham Evangelistic Association story about the event.
"They're looking at people showing their Instagram face and realizing, 'This isn't real. This is curated. This is not who you really are.' I've found a lot of young people in particular, saying, 'What's real? Is anything real?' And they're genuinely asking questions [about faith in God]."
People from over 1,000 churches partnered with @BGEA to make yesterday’s God Loves You Tour event possible. I am so grateful to each one who worked, prayed, prepared, and invited people to come. I also want to thank our friends @MichaelWSmith, @CeCeWinans, @Newsboys,… pic.twitter.com/FPAjbjMvsk— Franklin Graham (@Franklin_Graham) August 27, 2023
Around 5,000 attendees rode buses to the event. The pandemic and the war in Ukraine have impacted the way people view life, Johnson said.
"People are looking for answers," Johnson said. "They see something is wrong. They see this dark, black cloud."
Graham's next stop on the tour is in Glasgow on June 22 of next year.
Photo courtesy: ©BGEA, used with permission.
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.