God’s Artwork on Display at Youth Festival

“People are God’s artwork. You are God’s work of art.”

With a microphone in one hand and her tattooed arm freely outstretched, singer Lacey Sturm spoke to a filled-to-capacity Air Canada Centre, Saturday night, about the beauty of creation.

Lacey, who’s known for sharing the story of how God saved her from committing suicide, wanted the crowd to know they are special in God’s eyes.

Lacey Sturm
Lacey Sturm talks to the crowd.

“The creation says something about its creator. And you have something to say about who God is,” she said.

From the patchwork of colors, ages and faces in the stands, to the varying music and entertainment, God’s creativity has certainly been evident so far at the Franklin Graham Festival of Hope in Toronto.

For Saturday’s event—also youth night—Lacey performed right before Franklin Graham preached. Lecrae ended the night, with Thousand Foot Krutch, Manic Drive, and others taking the stage earlier.

The appeal of Billy Graham’s ministry to younger people who may not be familiar with his Crusades that drew millions for years is greater than some may think.

Leading up to the Toronto Festival, one teen tweeted about how hard it was for her to focus in driver’s education class because she was so excited for the night.

Another made a more serious comment while watching the event online at BillyGraham.ca/Live.

“Come and make my heart your home Lord!” she said.

Maybe an hour into the program, #bgfest, the hashtag for the Toronto event, was third on the list of trending Twitter topics in Canada.

Throughout the night, tweets, selfies, status updates, video clips, and filtered photos told the story of how God was moving at the Greater Toronto Festival of Hope.

Lecrae had the crowd jumping Friday night.

And that was all before Franklin Graham’s simple, but powerful message.

“He loves you with an everlasting love,” Franklin Graham told the young audience with intensity in his eyes. “He’s got a plan and a purpose for your life, and He wants to reveal it to you.”

He preached the story of the Rich Young Ruler from Mark 10 and shared a bit of his own testimony.

“There was an emptiness in my life,” Franklin Graham said. “Maybe you’re here and you have that emptiness in your life.”

A connection was certainly made. So many joined counselors to come forward during the invitation to accept Christ, security had to turn some people away.

Only 1,600 are allowed on the floor of the Air Canada Centre at one time. For those who didn’t make it to the front of the stage, counselors did what they could to get discipleship materials in the stands. Hundreds of decisions were documented—two-thirds from those ages 18 and under.

Franklin Graham on screen
Franklin Graham on screen at the Festival of Hope in Toronto.

In addition to the nearly 16,000 who packed into the Toronto arena, more than 23,000 watched live online from 100-plus countries.

Richard, 15, was among the group who walked forward at the arena.

“He felt a little lost and misguided. He wasn’t sure about his future,” said Greg, a 19-year-old who counseled Richard.

Richard and his friend came to the Festival of Hope to see Lecrae.

And for many others, that was the case—attending the event for a concert but ending up with a new relationship with Christ.

Each night of a Franklin Graham Festival includes music from popular Christian artists. The Toronto event featured Newsboys Friday night. Michael W. Smith will close out the Festival, Sunday.

But 13-year-old Julia is another example of why the Festivals are about more than music.

She’d been attending a nearby Vietnamese church, but had yet to make a personal connection with Christ. As she stood with tears streaming down her face while a counselor prayed with her Saturday, it was clear something had finally clicked.

“Her mom told her to come tonight. She came with her Sunday School teacher,” Tara, the counselor who shared Christ with Julia, said.

“My heart is for young people because they are the generation that will bring God’s presence to a [future] generation,” she continued.

Greg also hopes his peers will take Saturday’s message beyond the hockey floor they stood on and truly be a unique reflection of their Creator.

“Each individual is just that—an individual. We get stressed at times and think, ‘Oh, I’m just another number. I’m just one in 7 billion. I don’t really matter,’ ” he said.

“But we’re so valuable in God’s eyes,” Greg smiled. “We can be a light to everyone around us.”

Source | BillyGraham.org


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