Cúcuta, Colombia, is a beautiful, quiet city, surrounded by mountains and lined with palm trees. Its joyful and passionate residents love their “small town” (with a population of approximately 800,000).
While Cúcuta has a rich and complex history — including being recognized as the area where Colombia was born — it has been the focus of international news in recent months for another reason, as nearby Simon Bolivar Bridge has become a main artery for beleaguered Venezuelans crossing over into Colombia. Some are merely coming for much-needed groceries. Others — often carrying small children — are setting out for an arduous journey, beginning in Cúcuta and ending somewhere in the unknown, perhaps never to set foot in their homeland again.
In the midst of this environment, evangelist Franklin Graham and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association – alongside more than 450 local churches – proclaimed the Gospel message of God’s love in Cúcuta on Easter weekend. Including a Thursday morning children’s event called FestiKids, a total of 116,500 attended the Festival de Esperanza (Festival of Hope) at Estadio General Santander, enjoying lively music from Latin American and United States-based artists, as well as hope-filled messages from Graham.
“Jesus was crucified, died, and buried–but He didn’t stay in that grave. The tomb is empty! He’s alive! He’s risen,” said Graham. “And He offers us salvation and eternal life in heaven if we will repent of our sins and put our faith in Him.”
More than 7,550 people, including many Venezuelans, accepted the invitation to make a commitment to Jesus Christ. An additional 1,552 people responded for prayer.
“People are coming to know that their major need is not money or better social status, but rather the peace in their spirit through salvation in Jesus Christ,” said Pastor José Satirio dos Santos of Iglesia Centro Cristiano Los Pinos, who has served on the Festival Executive Committee. “I believe that the families that have brought friends will do a great job of discipleship. Churches will grow, more will be baptized, more people filled with the Spirit.”
The Festival de Esperanza was held in cooperation with Samaritan’s Purse, the international relief organization also headed by Graham, which has been actively working in Colombia, providing food, shelter, medical care and supplies to fleeing Venezuelans and distributing Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts to poverty-stricken children.
About the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association proclaims the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world by every effective means available. For more information, please visit www.billygraham.org.
(SOURCE: Billy Graham Evangelistic Association via Christian Newswire)