Counselor Steven Logan turned to the young man standing at his side at the Goldfields Celebration with Will Graham in Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Australia.
“Why did you come forward?” he asked. “Are there any troubles in your life?”
“I got out of jail yesterday,” the 26-year-old said quietly. His name was Aaron.
For years, Aaron had a good job with a company in Kalgoorlie-Boulder. Then he started using drugs, and his life went downhill.
“I lost my wife and my little daughter,” he said. “I lost everything.”
After two months, he was released from jail and was determined to make things different. When his friends invited him to the Celebration at Centennial Park, he didn’t hesitate.
“I managed to share with him the beauty of what it is to be a child of God,” Steven said. “I told him, ‘It’s not going to be easy; don’t expect it to be. But it’s going to be different because you have Somebody to rely on, Someone to give you hope and peace.”
That is precisely the message that Will preached during five services May 18-20 under a sky that was cloudless during the day and star-lit at night. His audiences ranged from close to 1,000 on Friday night to more than 1,600 on Sunday morning. With urgency, Will told them: the time to make things different, the time to repent of your sins, is now.
“We are not guaranteed tomorrow,” Will said. “My friends, if this were your last night on earth, are you ready to stand before God? If you had to stand before God right now, what would you say to Him?”
It wasn’t Will’s first trip to the Land Down Under. Over the last decade, he has preached in eight cities throughout the continent, the last one being in 2016 in Alice Springs, where more than 800 people made decisions for Christ. BGEA’s history in Australia goes all the way back to 1959, when for 16 weeks, Billy Graham and his Team preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout Australia and New Zealand, holding 114 meetings and drawing 3.3 million. More than 56,000 came forward in Sydney alone. Franklin held events in Australia in 1996, 1998 and 2005, and will return next year.
Will’s Kalgoorlie-Boulder Celebration was preceded by 25 years of persistent prayer by local ministers. Located in the Goldfields area of Western Australia, Kalgoorlie sits along the edge of the desert, about 600 kilometers—more than 370 miles—from the nearest major city. The city sprang up when gold was discovered in the area in the 1890s.
“Indigenous people would wander through this area back and forth, but when gold was found, people came from all over the world,” said Bill Kirkland, pastor of Oasis Assemblies of God Christian Church. “It was a largely male population, so it got quite a reputation for a lot of drinking, a lot of gambling and prostitution.”
But over the last 20 to 30 years, since the prayer focus began, the town has become more family-friendly. Families are putting down roots and staying in the area, bringing a stronger morality. Christian women from local churches have reached out to women in brothels, showing love and teaching the truth of Christ, and the brothels have begun to close. All the while, the pastors have stayed on their knees, crying out to God for their city.
“We prayed for unity, that Jesus Christ would be Lord of our town,” Kirkland said.
“There’s a lot of unique challenges being 600 kilometers from a city in a gold mining town with a tremendous turnover of people who come and go from the area. We’ve been praying that the churches will be strong and unified, and that we’d see God move upon this city.”
Larry Gibb, pastor of The Church of Christ, was one of the pastors who formed the prayer group. “We have a vision to see our city transformed by 2020,” Gibb said. “We’ve been praying for transformation, and we see the Celebration as being part of that.”
The Celebration was nothing short of amazing, the pastors said, from the weather, to the music, to the worship and the number of souls added to the Kingdom.
The event far exceeded Kirkland’s expectations.
“To see the Body of Christ in action with close to 2,000 people in a town of 30,000 coming to the Sunday morning service, and people with their hands raised and just wanting to worship the Lord; it was something really special to see Him honored over our city,” Kirkland said. “I know in Heaven there is rejoicing when one lost sinner comes, and there were hundreds who came forward this weekend, but I know that God’s heart was also moved when He saw the brethren dwelling together in unity.”