Prayers Answered in Mexico City

More than 4,000 people make decisions for Christ at Festival

Prayers Answered in Mexico City

More than 4,000 people make decisions for Christ at Festival

About 200 churches prayed and fasted for 40 days. Two thousand believers partnered together in an unbroken, around-the-clock prayer chain for weeks on end. And 22,000 faith-filled Christians from 2,000 churches interceded for their nation for months, begging God for a harvest of souls. … And then it happened.

Franklin preaches the Good News at the Esperanza CDMX Festival. Photo: Shealah Craighead / ©2024 BGEA

Esperanza CDMX (Mexico City Festival of Hope) with Franklin Graham, Feb. 17-18, witnessed God at work as more than 4,000 people made decisions for Christ during the two-night evangelistic event at Palacio de los Deportes arena. It marked the second consecutive year the Festival had been held in Mexico City, one of the world’s largest metropolitan areas, with some 22 million people.  

Over the past two years, BGEA has held a Festival on the east and west sides of the sprawling metropolis with nearly 44,000 people attending in February. For 23-year-old counselor Yael Arreola, the praying became more intense at the end of the first night of the Festival as he stood near two women who got down on their hands and knees and wept. Arreola handed the women tissue as they knelt on the concrete floor, heads bowed, for about 10 minutes. 

People bow to their knees in prayer at the Esperanza CDMX Festival. Photo: Shealah Craighead / ©2024 BGEA

“When God is in your heart, it motivates you to love the souls, no matter how they are,” Arreola said. “The Bible says that whoever does not love, does not know the Lord, because God is love. What motivated me to pray is the love that God gives me.” 

Arreola’s fiancé, Linet Aguilar, helped the women complete their decision cards. She said the women, in their mid-20s and early 30s, who didn’t know each other, had seen posters in the subway about the Festival and decided to attend. 

“I think that we witnessed the Lord at work here,” Aguilar said. “In their mind and in their heart, they think about everything they had done in their lives, and there was a genuine repentance. They wanted to have this opportunity to change their lives and to heal their broken hearts. I felt that there was a lot of pain and suffering and worries. I think the words that were preached today are healing. The Lord is willing to forgive, no matter what they had done. He has redeemed us and they understood that.”

Aguilar also prayed with Maria Elena, a 72-year-old woman in a wheelchair whose daughter accompanied her to the front of the arena when Franklin gave the invitation. “She said, ‘Forgive me God, have mercy on me, I can’t take it anymore,’” Aguilar said. “I told her that God restores. God transforms. And God consoles and gives peace even in illness, and she cried more and more, but it was not a cry of pain. She was crying with repentance and wanting to be comforted by God.”

People were visibly moved after nearly two hours of worship with Miel San Marcos, Redimi2, Nadia, Dennis Agajanian and the Tommy Coomes Band. Then Franklin Graham brought a Gospel message, preaching from Daniel 5 about how to “make sure that your soul is safe in the hands of God forever.”

“God is willing to forgive you of your sins,” Franklin told the overflow crowd. “If you’re willing to turn from your sin, [and] believe on His Name, tonight you can be forgiven.”

People raise their hands and flashlights as they worship. Photo: Shealah Craighead / ©2024 BGEA

Arreola also prayed with Claudio Hernandez. The 19-year-old recommitted his life to Christ while also praying on his hands and knees. “He believed in Christ, but eight years ago he walked away from the church,” Arreola said. “Like the prodigal son, today he is in good accounts with God again. And it’s a miracle of God.”  

BGEA partnered with local churches to provide about 900 buses over two nights to transport thousands of people to the Festival from several hours away. Mario Paulin, pastor of Iglesia Cristiana Inter-denominacional in Coacalco, Mexico, traveled 2 1/2 hours on a bus with 40 of his church members to be a part of the Festival. Paulin, who served as a counseling supervisor both nights, described how a mother and her 11-year-old son made their way from the upper level of the arena to the floor in front of the stage.

“When the calling was made, a lady with her son came down because they were touched by the message,” he said. “They were crying, both of them. One of the counselors approached them and helped them go all the way to the front. They had a big spiritual need. The mother hugged the boy. Both of them were crying when they felt the impact of the Word. You could see that in their heart, they were born again.”  

In the overflow area outside the arena, several thousand people watched and listened to Franklin’s message that was simulcast on a large screen. 

Rolando Hernandez, a counseling supervisor who served in the overflow area, said that 400 decision cards were collected during the first night of the Festival despite the chilly and breezy conditions outdoors.

“A lot of people responded to the message,” Hernandez said. “People were standing up and crying as they walked toward the screen area. It’s God’s power. For us, it was an impressive situation. The call was direct. They were not physically close to the preacher, but they were focused on the screen. The power of the Word stood them up and they decided to go up and say ‘yes’ to what the preacher was asking for. They prayed and accepted God.”

A prayer team member shares materials with someone who responded to the message. Photo: Shealah Craighead / ©2024 BGEA

On the second night of the Festival, Franklin told the near-capacity crowd how God forgave him when he got on his knees, repented of his sins and surrendered his life to Christ when he was 22. 

“He will hear your prayer here tonight,” Franklin said. “What prison are you in? Sin is a prison. Tonight, you can be set free.”

Arreola, a history major at the University of Mexico and graffiti artist, paints murals with a Gospel message on the university campus as well as on street corners where drug deals happen daily. As a counselor at the Festival both nights, he met people desperate for God’s forgiveness and redemption. 

A 17-year-old, whose father was a pastor before he died during the COVID pandemic, was ready to profess his faith in Christ. “The young man broke down and fell to the floor and could not hold back his tears,” Arreola said. “He knew about the Gospel, but he had rejected it and it was not until that moment that he accepted Jesus as his Savior.” Arreola also prayed with a 54-year-old man who repented of adultery and recommitted his life to Christ. And a 32-year-old mother, who was invited to the Festival by a co-worker, prayed to receive Jesus as her Savior and Lord.

As the Festival ended, Franklin encouraged those who made decisions to begin attending a Bible-believing church weekly. “We’re going to be in Heaven together,” Franklin said. “And I want you to teach me Spanish. It will take eternity to teach me.”  ©2024 BGEA 

Mexico’s Native Son Interprets the Gospel at Festival of Hope

David Ruiz interprets for Franklin at the Esperanza CDMX Festival. Photo: Logan Ryan / ©2024 BGEA

For the second consecutive year, BGEA Associate Evangelist David Ruiz has served as Franklin Graham’s interpreter for Esperanza CDMX (Mexico City Festival of Hope).

Ruiz was 3 years old when his father became involved with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in the late 1960s. “I grew up watching Billy Graham on television,” Ruiz said. “I learned Billy Graham’s messages by heart.” Ruiz helped his father volunteer at the Crusade when Billy Graham preached in Mexico City in 1981. 

“When I was 16 years old, the Lord touched my heart, and I gave my life to Christ,” he said. “I didn’t know that the Lord was going to call me to ministry some years later.”

Ruiz attended the Presbyterian seminary in Mexico City and pastored churches for a while. “My main call was evangelism,” he said. After hosting mission groups from the United States over the years, Ruiz decided at age 27 to teach himself English over months of practice.

“We had the opportunity to work with groups from the states for many summers in Mexico, and it was hard to be there and not be able to talk to them,” he said. “And I said, ‘I need to learn something.’”

After 15 years as an associate evangelist with BGEA for Latin America, Ruiz said that interpreting for Franklin Graham at the Festival in Mexico City is an honor and blessing. “What I saw in Mexico City with Franklin was powerful,” he said. “I saw the same thing when Dr. Graham came in 1981. It’s an awesome opportunity and responsibility to be his interpreter,” Ruiz said. “It was something special, and I thank God for His love and His mercy. I love the ministry. I love Franklin. I love the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. It’s a great blessing to serve the Lord under Franklin’s leadership and with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.”  ©2024 BGEA

Photo: Thomas J. Petrino / ©2024 BGEA

Subscribe to Decision Email Devotional

Subscribe to Decision Email Devotional

Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

About Us     Contact Us     Privacy
©2024 Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. BGEA is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.