Post-Christian Europe needs followers of Jesus who understand that the Gospel is powerful in itself. We should not hold onto the privileges of old religious structures.
“Politicians are not going to be able to answer the questions that the world is facing today”, Graham told Evangelical Focus. The evangelist introduced Festival of Hope in Spain and talked about secularised European societies.
Franklin Graham talked to Evangelical Focus about the upcoming Festival of Hope that will take place in Barcelona in May. In the interview, the well-known evangelist encouraged Christians in the West “to do everything they can to try to help the Christians in the Middle East.”.
The president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) emphasised the importance of having a personal relationship with God, and explained that he is coming to Barcelona so that everyone who attends the festival will “know there is a God”.
You can listen to the AUDIO interview at the bottom of this article.
Question. What has led you to continue your father’s legacy as the president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association?
Answer. I have never tried to carry on my father’s legacy, it is my Heavenly Father’s, and all my God has called me to do. Taking the gospel to the the ends of the earth is a calling that has always been on my life, and it is the same calling that was on my father’s life. And I believe that today the only hope for the world is Jesus Christ.
Politicians are not going to be able to answer the questions that the world is facing today; they are complex, there are not simple answers. People are searching and looking for hope. We see the rise of ISIS, we see the threat coming, not only from Islam, but from other areas of the world, and the only hope that we have is to make sure that our souls are secure in the hands of God. And the only way we can be sure of that it is if we come to a personal relationship with God, and that is through faith in His son Jesus Christ.
So I am coming to Barcelona, not to preach a religion, I am coming to preach a personal relationship through faith, with Jesus Christ.
THE WORLD NEEDS GOD
Q. The Gospel does not change, but society has changed a lot, especially, according to Pew Research polls, regarding its rejection of institutional religion. Is the Gospel still an individual challenge to each person, regardless of their membership of a specific church?
A..People can be religious and be lost, lonely and still searching. What I am talking about is a relationship with God, that comes through faith in his son Jesus Christ. When we confess our sins and repent, and tell God we are sorry, and invite Jesus into our hearts, God demands at that point that we follow Christ and live for Him; and again, I am here to preach faith in Jesus Christ, and how our sins can be forgiven, and how we can know within our hearts that we will have eternal life.
So we hope that people from many different cultural backgrounds and religious backgrounds will come. They are welcome, and I want all Barcelona to know that God loves Barcelona. He loves Spain and he sends his Son from heaven to this earth to take all of our sins, and if we are willing to confess and repent, God fills our hearts.
And repentance means to turn from those sins. It does not mean to go to confession and then we come back to our sins. If we turn from our sins, we follow Christ and God will forgive our sins and we will feel that hope, knowing that one day, when we die, we will be in God’s presence for eternity. Not because we are good people, because we are not, we are sinners.
But I want Barcelona to experience God’s forgiveness, and I hope that he not only changes every heart, but also the city, and the country of Spain.
Q. We are living in a world where the three key words of the Gospel: faith, hope and love have been substituted for money, market and business. Do you think that the message of Jesus can help us to renounce materialism, in a world so attached to its possessions?
A. People do search for money; they believe that if they can make money, they can be happy. If they have a successful business, they can be happy. Young people look at fashion, thinking that if they could dress nicely and look good, this will make them happy; but the search for money and success does not bring happiness, and there is still emptiness. This emptiness is a vacuum God has put inside every human being, and until we come to know God and his son Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, we will continue searching. But once a person receives Christ, that fulfillment comes and God will reveal to that person his purpose for their lives, and what he has for them to do.
I think that is what everyone is searching for: What is the meaning for my life? Why am I here? What am I to do? Do I just live for a few years, and then die, and that is all? I believe God has a purpose for every one of us, but sin blocks that, and until that barrier of sin is removed, God cannot reveal his purpose for our lives, and the only way that barrier can be removed is to come to Christ and trust him as our Saviour.
Q. You and the Billy Graham Association through the Samaritan Purse have emphasised a lot the importance of helping those in need. What part of this project gives you most satisfaction?
A. When we look at the life of Jesus Christ, he cared about poor people, about people that were hurting: when the lame people who cannot walk came to him, he made them walk again. When people could not see, he touched them, and they could see again, even people that were dead, he raised them from death; Jesus cared about people physically, but that is not why he came, he came to give us eternal life through faith in him.
As Christians, when we see people in society that are hurting, we should stop and try to help them, if we can. And we have to let them know that God loves them, and that is the important part, to tell them why we are helping them, and it is because God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.
We want the world to know that God loves them, and Jesus died for their sins, so in Samaritan Purse, we work in over 110 countries around the world, but wherever we work, we lift up the name of Jesus Christ, we want the people to know that Christ died for them, and if they are willing to repent of their sins, and receive Christ by faith, and call upon His name, they will be saved and forgiven, their hearts will be healed, and God will reveal to them a purpose and plan for their lives.
Q. There is a lot of debate right now in USA, about Barack Obama’s immigration reform, something that affects many Christian families and churches. What is your opinion about it, and how do you think the situation can improve?
A . Every country has laws and procedures for immigration, and USA has had an open policy for more than 200 years, when people from all around the world migrated to the United States. What it is happening now, in the last ten, twenty years, is that we have seen the rise of radical Islam that is threatening Europe; it is threatening the West. I believe Europe needs immigration reform, because we saw recently the beheadings of these 21 Egyptian Christians, and ISIS has declared war on all the countries of the Cross.
Every nation that has a history of Christianity is threatened, so I believe that, as a society, we need to think about a serious reform of our immigration policy, especially towards the Middle East, where Christians are being attacked and slaughtered, and in the West we need to do everything we can to try to help the Christians in that region.
SECULARISED POSTMODERN EUROPE
Q . How can the vision of Jesus' message impact a postmodern, secularised society like Europe?
A. When we look at secularised, postmodern society, not only in Europe, but in the United States and Canada as well, people put their faith in science, they put their faith in government, but government has failed them. Science has failed, and there is still that emptiness inside their lives; they go to parties, and they think that will make them happy, they have sex because they think that will make them happy, they try drugs, thinking that will bring happiness, but all these things: materialism, sex, drugs, alcohol, money, are empty, and will not fill the vacuum in their lives.
I want people in Barcelona to know that there is a plan; there is a God, and God does love them, and it is real, and he wants to be a partner in their lives. He is willing to guide and direct them in life, but sin is blocking the way, everyone of us is guilty of sin, but God loves us so much, that he sent his Son, and when Jesus came to this earth, he took our sins, he was nailed to a cross.
He shed his blood for my sins, for Barcelona, for every individual in the world. Jesus Christ shed his blood for us, he was buried. He took our sins to the grave, and on the third day, God raised his son to life, he is not still hanging on a cross, he is not still in a grave, he is alive, and he can come into each and every heart that is willing to invite him.
And that is what I am going to do in Barcelona, I will invite people to put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ, and I will pray with them, to confess their sins, and to repent by faith and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. People will leave that arena knowing that their sins are forgiven, and that they are in a right relationship with God, so I am looking forward to come.
Yes, we live in a secularized, postmodern society, but the human heart is the same as it was 800 years ago, it is searching and looking for God, because God put that need in each and everyone of us, so I want everyone to know that they can have a relationship with God.
Q . Is there anything else you want to say?
A. We want to invite everyone to come, and to bring a friend with them, if a person is searching, and they are looking how to have a relationship with God, they can come, and we are looking forward to meeting them.