With hands raised to the heavens, more than 1,600 people lifted their voices and began to sing with Aaron Shust: “Savior, He can move the mountains, my God is mighty to save, He is mighty to save.”
As soon as they began singing, rain started pouring down, and the crowd erupted in cheer. Rain in Kaua`i, Hawaii, is seen as a blessing, and on this night the rain foreshadowed the outpouring of love that God would shower on the island during the Kaua`i Celebration with Will Graham.
With 64 churches cooperating in the Celebration, believers were ready for revival to come to their land.
“We’re believing God that this [Celebration] is part of the answer for the lack of hope on this island,” Celebration Team Leader and Pastor Nathan Hanohano said. “Revival can happen if people will start crying out to Jesus. We really need to see this darkness broken off this island.”
The May 3-5 event marked the first time Will and Franklin Graham shared the stage at a Celebration. And it became the second place, after the Philippines, where three generations of Grahams have visited and preached.
“This man led me to the Lord Jesus Christ on Jan. 11, 1981, and my life has never been the same,” Will told the crowd when he introduced his dad. “This man holds a whole bunch of different titles. … But I remember reading the title that’s most precious of them all, and that is the title ‘Dad.’” He went on to describe his father as one of the most important people in his life.
“I want to thank my son, Will,” Franklin said when he took the stage. “I’m very proud of him.” Then he turned his attention to Mark 10 and the story of a man named Bartimaeus. Bartimaeus was blind, poor and hopeless, Franklin told the audience. But he chose to put his faith and trust in Jesus, and his life changed.
“Maybe you’re here tonight and you feel there’s not much hope, and maybe you feel that time is running out for you,” Franklin said. “Tonight, you can be forgiven of your sins. Tonight, you can have a new life and a new beginning.”
As the invitation was given and the counselors took their places, Diane, a counselor from a local church, looked around and began to pray. Let me be a vessel for you, Lord, she prayed. Let me find the right person to talk with tonight.
As soon as she looked up, her eyes met those of a woman standing nearby, and she felt the Holy Spirit prompting her to speak with the woman.
“Did you decide to follow Jesus Christ tonight?” Diane asked.
“Yes!” the woman responded.
The 54-year-old, named Ida, came forward with her sister, who also decided to give her life to Christ. The two women had been going through difficult situations, and they were looking for the hope that Franklin talked about.
“We’re going to meet and do a Bible study together, and I am going to drive her to church,” said Diane, who found out she lives across the street from Ida. “That’s how God works. A divine appointment.”
Bernard Carvalho Jr., former mayor of Kaua`i, was excited about the first night of the Celebration. “The message that came and the timing of the rain, the ua, is a blessing,” he said. “I believe sincerely that God showered us with His love because of what happened tonight.”
The skies cleared, but the blessings continued to come over the final two nights. Will shared the Good News with thousands as he preached from 1 Samuel, telling the story of how Hannah, despite knowing God, felt broken because she could not conceive a child.
“Brokenness is felt by everyone,” Will said.
“Surrender all your brokenness, all your [sin]. Hand it over to God. He’ll take it and give you a new life.”
As he continued to share, he reminded people that although they live in what many consider to be paradise, there are still struggles.
“No matter where I go, I see that there is still brokenness in life,” he said. “And we can’t fix it. Only God can.
“God put all the sin of the world, your sin and my sin, all that brokenness, all that hurt, all those murders, all those rapes, all those lies, all that hatred, and He placed it on His Son, Jesus.”
Lorna, a 50-year-old who flew from Honolulu to attend the Celebration, knew there was a lot of brokenness in her life that she couldn’t handle on her own anymore.
“A lot of things have been eating at me,” she said. “There’s a lot of hurt and heaviness. I’m done with the old, I’ve got to move on somehow.” She now knows that Jesus is the only way.
As tears rolled down her cheeks, her cousin, LeeAnn, who happened to be her counselor, began to cry. “I’m rejoicing,” she said. “God is so faithful. She just turned 50. I know her life is just going to be uphill from now on. They say when you turn 50 your life goes downhill, but her life is going nowhere but up.”
Tia, a 37-year-old woman, also knew she needed to surrender her life to God.
“She came up to accept God as her Lord and Savior,” Ku’uipo, her counselor, said. “She asked for prayer and said she just lost her dad. She’s in a time of grieving and wanted to commit her life to Christ in this time of grief.”
Between the events and the KidzFest outreach, the total attendance at Vidinha Stadium reached 6,495, with more than 600 making decisions—390 of those were people who were receiving Jesus Christ as Savior.
“This is something we’ve prayed for and believed for this island,” Bryson Garma, a supervisor for the Celebration and a local youth pastor, said. “Now the ball’s in our court.”