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Graham’s simple message changes lives

Thousands of people from around the state converged on Fresno’s Bulldog Stadium between Oct. 11 and 14, to be a part of Reverend Billy Graham’s Central Valley Crusade.

“The Crusade accomplished everything we expected it to and more,” Karen Woods, administrative assistant with the Central Valley Billy Graham Crusade, said. “We filled the stadium every night, so it was definitely a positive thing for the city.”

During the four-day crusade, over 200,000 people attended the crusade, including hundreds of students and many from campus.

“I feel the crusade accomplished a lot for the community,” Josh Martinez, ’02, said. “It reached out to the non-Christian community and still pulled together the Christian community.”

The evening of Oct. 13 proved to have the highest attendance as nearly 62,000 people showed up to watch Grammy Award winning artists, Kirk Franklin and DC Talk, perform at the concert for the Next Generation.

During the Kidz Gig on Saturday morning, Oct. 13, Psalty the singing songbook entertained nearly 16,000 kids. Psalty strove to spread the good news in an unconventional way, through songs and skits.

“I helped during the Kidz Gig by acting on stage on Saturday morning, the 13th,” Chris Vanden Hoek, ?03, said. “I like acting and I felt, in a small way, I helped bring some children to the Lord. I also had a chance to counsel a young boy on Saturday night. It was so cool counseling someone, helping them to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior.”

Each night after his short message, Graham encouraged those who were ready, to come forward and make a personal commitment and statement of their faith.

“I thought the concert on Saturday night was great,” Josh Justin, ’03, said. “It did a wonderful job at reaching both the younger and older generations.”

The purpose of the Oct. 13 concert was to provide an avenue for the Graham crusade to reach teenagers in the Valley. The crusade connected with teenagers through the medium of music but used the years of evangelical experience in Graham to deliver to them Christ’s message of salvation.

“Billy Graham just has a gift,” Jennifer Jesser, ’02, said. “When he speaks people listen, and even though he only delivered a short message, he said everything he needed to.”

Aside from musical talent like Crystal Lewis and The Charlie Daniels Band, every evening the ailing Graham gave a concise sermon on the simple message of salvation. Graham, who broke his foot while in Fresno, was helped to the podium by a wheel chair. Psalty gave the message at the Saturday morning Kidz Gig.

“Our city needed guidance,” Rene Charest, ’04, said. “Reverend Graham gave our city spiritual guidance. It’s obvious that people received it well because there were thousands of life-changing decisions.

According to Woods, of the 14,000 decisions, nearly 58% of them were first time professions of faith.

“At first, counseling at the Crusade was the thing to do…so I signed up to counsel,” Daurissa Garcia, ?03, said. “However, Diana changed my attitude. She was a teen just like me who had a broken but repentant heart. She prayed to Jesus for life-changing accountability. She wanted to be consistent in her faith…but I couldn’t help her. I found out I needed help too. Billy Graham may have touched thousands of lives but Diana, my new friend, opened my heart and changed me.”

Organizers are hopeful that the coming Graham Crusade for Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, in 2002, will be as positive as the Fresno Crusade. But as Reverend Graham said, “A successful crusade requires prayer, prayer and more prayer.”

For more information on Billy Graham’s messages or the Billy Graham Crusade organization, please go to For further information about the Central Valley Crusade or how to become involved in the local church, go to See the web links to the right of this article.” “Carli Albrechtson, Retired photographer” “Over 200,000 people attended the Billy Graham Central Valley Crusade in Fresno from Oct. 11-13. Billy Graham appears on the large jumbotron screens at Bulldog Stadium. Over 14,000 people made commitments to Jesus during the event.” “Carli Albrechtson, Photographer” “While many campus students volunteered during the Billy Graham Crusage, hundreds of other students attended the event. Here Julie Fujihara, ?03 (front), Carson Belmont, ?05 (left), John Wiens, ?02 and Samantha Kimball, ?02, sit waiting for the Crusade to begin on Oct. 13. The group had to wait in line for over an hour to get through the tightened security.”

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