After three years of prayer, planning and a postponement because of COVID-19, more than 52,000 people attended Esperanza CDMX [Hope Mexico City] Festival with Franklin Graham Feb. 11-12. And how God worked in hearts was nothing short of miraculous. Some 2,000 churches participated, and for weeks, Christians prayed around the clock that God would save souls. “There are hundreds of pastors who are excited to be part of this event because this is going to sow the seed of the Gospel for the churches of Mexico, to bring revival for the people of Mexico,” said Juan Carlos Morales, who helped to mobilize churches in the western section of the city.
A Heart for the City
Every Thursday evening for the past two years, a church called the Center of Christian Identity has held “Church Without Walls,” an outdoor worship service for people who live on the streets. The church provides snacks and beverages, sings worship songs and offers a message about Jesus Christ. On the Thursday before the Festival, they gave Bibles to anyone who didn’t have one.
“People in the streets do receive help, such as food,” said Pastor Ignacio Mosqueiro. “But what they appreciate is that we are there for them. We hear them. We hug them. We’re not faking loving them; we’re showing them real Christian love.”
The church arranged for a bus to take homeless people to Arena CDMX for the first Festival meeting. Of the 25 guests who came on that bus, 20 responded to the Gospel message.
Eduardo Ortega Soriano pastors Life in Abundance Church in the Peralvillo neighborhood, an area known for crime and drug addiction. Ortega has seen God transform kidnappers, thieves and drug dealers. He, too, has experienced homelessness and drug addiction, even to the point of losing his job and his marriage. But 30 years ago, God changed his life. He later studied for the ministry and was offered a chance to minister in the United States.
“But I saw the need in my city,” he said. “I told them, ‘Thank you for thinking of me, but my heart is for Mexico City.’”
Ortega’s church reserved a bus on the first night of the Festival, and two people who rode the bus went forward to receive Christ.
“I’m very joyful to be able to bring people who don’t know God to hear of Him,” he said. “The most important thing is that people come to Christ. I know that many pastors like me will be rejoicing in the results.”
“From the 2,000 churches that are involved in the Festival, we called for intercessors,” said Pastor Ever Lomeli, who led the prayer effort. “We have five groups of intercessors, each one with 300 people.”
Two hours before the Festival meeting, Lomeli was still praying. “The greatest need today is for people to come to salvation through Jesus Christ,” he said.
Idolatry is rooted in Mexico’s culture, Lomeli explained. One of the most popular idols is Santa Muerte, or Holy Death. “The ones promoting Santa Muerte are the crime groups,” he said, “including the drug dealers. So Santa Muerte has become rooted in jails and in popular neighborhoods.”
As he spoke, members of the on-site prayer team were on one of the upper levels of the arena, pouring out their hearts to God.
“The power of prayer is great,” said an intercessor named Miriam during a brief break on the second evening. “Yesterday, my son and his fiancée came. My son rededicated his life to the Lord, and his fiancée accepted Christ. My husband and I are so glad because we know their home is going to be a blessing.”
Another intercessor added that she had distributed 3,000 Festival flyers to homeless people. “I’m so happy,” she said, “because I saw some whom I invited in line outside, ready to come in.”
Hundreds of believers served as Festival volunteers, and many expressed a passion to see people come to faith in Jesus Christ.
“I’m God’s servant,” said usher Charo Soriano, “and wherever there is work to be done, I’m going to be involved in the work of the Lord. We have been waiting for this for years, but finally the time has come, and my prayer is that a revival will be born out of this.”
Another usher, Victor Manuel Farfan Galicia, said: “Wherever I can serve, there I will be. Waking up, my job—everything I do—is for Christ.”
You Must Be Born Again
Both days of the Festival, hundreds of people lined up hours before the arena doors opened. On Sunday, one of the people in line was a man who was dressed as a woman, wearing lipstick and going by the name Lorena.
“This is the first time I will be attending a Christian event,” he said. “I am a sex worker, and on the corner where I work, they came inviting us, so I decided to come. I don’t know what the event is about, but I’m interested. For 4 1/2 years, I’ve had AIDS, although it is in remission. They told me that here, they will pray for those who have anxiety and sadness, so that’s why I wanted to come.”
The Festival meetings began with FestiKids, which features a play geared for children that dramatizes how Jesus rescues people from sin. The main meeting followed, with musical guests Marcos Witt, Miel San Marcos, Nadia (see page 18), Dennis Agajanian, Michael W. Smith and the Tommy Coomes Band.
On Sunday evening, Franklin spoke about Nicodemus and Jesus’ teaching that we must be born again.
Nicodemus was very religious, Franklin said. “But he did not have a relationship with God. And there are many of you here tonight, and you do not have a relationship with God. … There was an emptiness in his life. Even though he was religious, something was missing. Is there an emptiness in your life? Is your life in a mess? … Whatever your problem, I want you to know that Jesus Christ is the answer.”
As Franklin preached, the man who had called himself Lorena walked down to an empty seat in the front row and sat down. At the invitation, he went forward immediately. Later, walking on the street with two members of a local church and no longer wearing lipstick, he described his experience:
“I saw the [FestiKids] play, and I saw myself in it. I saw how God delivers, and after that, how the enemy comes to steal our peace and joy. I liked the worship music.
“After that came the part about going to the front to pray. In that moment, I was so anxious to go up there, but fear and anxiety were trying to come in, and I wanted to leave. But I went to the front. Two people, a man and a woman, prayed for me.
“I’m very happy to receive these gifts,” he said, holding up the Scripture portion and Living in Christ booklet that were given to those who responded to the invitation.
The church members had already invited him to attend their church the following weekend and said the church would be able to help him to leave prostitution.
He was just one of thousands who responded to the invitation over the two days of the Festival.
Others included an 18-year-old man who received Christ as Savior. He said his father had become a Christian, and the changes he saw in his dad made him want to receive Christ, too. “I want Christ to change my life and make me a new person,” he said.
One woman who prayed to receive Christ said, “It’s a great feeling. I’m a little nervous, but I’m OK. I hope this is a door so I can change my life and my thoughts.”
A man and his two sons all came forward to receive Christ. They have had problems in their family, and they want the family to be restored. The word Franklin Graham had said about Christ stayed with them—that no matter your problem, Christ is the answer.
And a woman who prayed to receive Christ said, “I want God to lead me in my new life.” ©2023 BGEA
Photo: Thomas J. Petrino/©2023 BGEA