God’s faithfulness in 2023 “gives us freedom, confidence and assurance to look forward” in 2024, says Victor Hamm, BGEA’s vice president of Crusades. “We are confident that God’s Word never returns void,” he adds, as he contemplates all the places the ministry will share the Gospel message this year—from Mexico to Vietnam to the southwestern U.S. border.
It all begins this month, as Franklin Graham returns to Mexico City (often referred to as CDMX) Feb. 17-18 for the Esperanza CDMX Festival after a strong response to the Gospel there last February. The team is working with over 2,000 local churches to reach the entire city—one of the largest in the world, with a population of about 20 million people from all different backgrounds. Last June at a launch event, 1,350 pastors met for a time of prayer and preparation. Nearly 11,000 people have taken Christian Life & Witness training, with many planning to bring their unsaved friends and family to hear the Gospel. And about a thousand pastors are expected for a one-day Preach the Word conference with Pastor Skip Heitzig two days before the Festival.
Mexico City’s culture is saturated with syncretistic religion.
“A lot of people have no idea that there is a Savior who saves from sin, forgives them and gives life eternal,” Hamm said, “and that there is the Holy Spirit who can live in their hearts and give them power to live a glorious life.”
Chris Swanson, BGEA’s director of Latin American affairs, told Decision last year that the primary religion in Mexico City is Santa Muerte, or“Holy Death,” a mixture of cultural Catholicism and witchcraft. “The oppression is thick,” he said, “but God is greater!”
After Mexico City, Franklin will hit the road for the God Loves You Frontera Tour in 10 cities along the southern borders of Texas, Arizona and California Feb. 24 through March 9. The Tour will feature music from Taya, Marcos Witt, Dennis Agajanian and, in select cities, Jeremy Camp. Franklin’s messages will be interpreted live in Spanish.
Christians in the border region have expressed gratitude to BGEA for working to equip them for sharing the Gospel in the months leading up to the Tour. More training classes have been conducted at this stage in a Tour than ever before, said Steve Rhoads, BGEA’s vice president of Church Ministry, with classes being taught in both English and Spanish. The warmth, enthusiasm and cooperation from the local churches and pastors have been unprecedented.
“It’s an extremely difficult time in cities all along the southern border,” Rhoads said, “but the pastors take seriously the calling to be both shepherds and evangelists. We can help by praying for these pastors as they tackle this complicated mission.”
The tension on the border has helped pastors recognize the weight of their responsibility to cooperate and reach the influx of people coming from all over the world, Rhoads said.
Following the Frontera Tour, Franklin will preach in Kraków, Poland, during the Bóg Cie Kocha Tour on April 13. Local churches are seeking to reach the Polish population as well as the millions of Ukrainian refugees who have flooded in since 2022. And on April 26, Will Graham will hold a Celebration of Hope in Porto, Portugal, a mostly Catholic area.
In mid-June, Franklin will take the God Loves You Tour to the United Kingdom for stops in Birmingham on June 15 and Glasgow on June 22. This leg of the Tour has been long anticipated, as both of the venues in these cities backed out of hosting the tour in 2020 due to pressure from LGBTQ activists. BGEA still receives pushback from liberal media in the U.K., where Christian persecution is becoming more common—but, in Hamm’s words, “We press on.”
Also in June, Will Graham will take the Good News to Gold Coast, Australia. Allen Scroggs, BGEA’s executive director of Celebrations, said that one of the struggles for pastors and churches all over the world is the decrease in church involvement after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A large majority of church members feel that if they’re in church one Sunday a month, they’re considered an active, devoted church member,” Scroggs said. “Will’s heart is to go in and strengthen the local church.”
Scroggs added that preparations are underway in Canada for a First Nations–Christian Leaders Conference Sept. 12-13 and a Look Up Celebration Nov. 8-9.
In the fall, Franklin will proclaim the Gospel in Naples, Italy, and Will Graham will preach in Longmont, Colorado.
Finally, in December, Franklin will preach in Vietnam for the third time, having been invited by Vietnam’s Communist government to return after the Spring Love Festival in Ho Chi Minh City last March.
Prayer has always been the priority in BGEA’s evangelistic mission. Please pray that God will raise up laborers and prayer warriors to prepare for the spiritual harvest only He can bring. Pray also that BGEA’s efforts would strengthen the churches in each of these cities.
“I think that the Lord has a unique plan for each location,” Scroggs said. “But if we’re not seeking Him, how are we going to hear from Him?” ©2024 BGEA
Photo: Thomas J. Petrino / ©2023 BGEA