On Saturday, September 13, 2014 I was sitting beside the stage in the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario. I had been invited by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association to come and observe the Festival of Hope. Franklin Graham had just completed sharing the gospel message and now was inviting people to respond to the message. There was so much peace in that moment. It was incredible to truly sense the Holy Spirit leading people to come to the front. For over a year the BGEA and the churches of Toronto had been praying for the Festival of Hope.
With over 16,000 people in attendance I wondered what the response to the gospel message would be like. The entire floor in front of the stage suddenly was filled with those coming forward. It was incredible. It was so genuine. In that moment I truly experienced God’s love, power, presence, grace, mercy and compassion for his children. I saw people from every tribe and tongue on earth represented in this one room. Such diversity. Such joy. Such peace. That evening I saw hundreds have their names written in the Lambs book of life.
Since I was sitting right by the stage, I was actually right by the entrance to the area behind the stage. Standing right in front of me was a young man who was a security guard. All night it was his responsibility to check out every individual who was attempting to access the backstage area. He took his job very seriously. He was doing his job very well. I would guess that he was in his early twenties. He was literally standing right in front of my seat. I had to look around his back at times to observe what was happening. I am a people watcher by trade (as I like to call it). I notice faces and often see them at another point in life. I had observed that this young man had been chewing gum while doing his job. It was a very consistent motion and no matter what occurred during the evening it did not fluctuate.
During the invitation to invite Christ into the lives of the people who came forward, Franklin led those who came forward in a prayer that they repeated after him. I usually close my eyes during this time, but since I was there as an observer to the event I kept my eyes open. My eyes locked on the jaw of the security guard in front of me. When Franklin would say a line of the prayer his gum chewing had the same rhythm that it had all night. When those responding to the call would pray the security guards gum chewing motion changed. I personally felt the Holy Spirit say to me, ‘he is accepting God.’
Then the counsellors started praying for people. I asked the security guard if he had prayed that prayed and if he given his life to God. He said yes. He began to get tears in his eyes. It was wonderful. I began to talk to him and he kept doing his job. God’s power and presence came to a security guards life while he was working and protecting the Festival of Hope. It was so amazing.
Friends, I am learning anew that God is in control. He does love us. He does show up. He does still move.
If you have not had the opportunity yet, I would encourage you to participate in the daily devotions that have been prepared for us as a church. They are so good. Each day has been exactly what I needed.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS: Spiritual Renewal Weekend – October 3 to 5, 2014 for everyone that calls Celebration Lutheran Church their church.