Young minister implores people to 'come home' during Alabama celebration
DOTHAN, Ala. -- Approximately 52 years after his famous grandfather, Evangelist Billy Graham, preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Dothan, Ala., Will Graham followed in his footsteps by holding the Wiregrass Area Celebration. Approximately 7,700 attended the three-day outreach, which was held May 5-7 at the Dothan Civic Center.
"You've been running from the Lord. Like the Prodigal, you've gone away," said Graham from the stage, referencing the biblical parable of the Prodigal Son. "It's time to return to God. Jesus loves you unconditionally. He's waiting to say 'Welcome home!'"
More than 465 people responded to Graham's invitation to make a commitment to Jesus.
Charles Nailen, who served as the executive team leader for the local Celebration committee, was moved by what he saw. "When the people started walking down in response to his invitation, the tears started rolling out of the corners of my eyes, just to see how God had moved the hearts of the people in response to what Will had to say."
In addition to those who attended the Wiregrass Area Celebration in Dothan, more than 32,350 people representing 68 countries watched the worldwide live stream of the event. Each of Graham's messages was also broadcast via Facebook Live.
Graham was joined by award-winning Christian artists, including: Aaron Shust, who received the 2007 Dove Award's New Artist of the Year, Songwriter of the Year, and Song of the Year (for "My Savior, My God") commendations; Colton Dixon, recipient of two Dove Awards for Rock/Contemporary Album of the Year (albums "Anchor" in 2015 and "A Messenger" in 2013); The Afters, who have had multiple top-five hits on the Billboard Praise & Worship charts; hip-hop artist Aaron Cole, and worship leader Justin Unger.
"I feel real positive that we've helped the community see the potential of what can happen when the churches come together and do a collaborative effort for God's glory," said Robert Tatum, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association's celebration director, who has helped to lead the preparation and planning for the Wiregrass Area Celebration. "Not for a church's growth or individual personality, but when they all come together and they see, 'Wow, this can happen. We can fill the Civic Center. We can fill the stadium. We can reach many more people together than we can alone.'"
In addition to the Wiregrass Area Celebration, Graham's 2017 calendar includes the three-day Greater Fort Wayne Celebration in Indiana, as well as international outreaches in Mexico, Canada and Romania.
Will is the son of Franklin Graham and the grandson of Billy Graham. He's the third generation of Grahams to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ under the banner of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA). He also serves as vice president of the BGEA, and as executive director of the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in Asheville, N.C. Follow Will on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/WillGraham4 and on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/TellaGraham.