Pastor Melvin Taylor of New Life Restoration Center and one of the Vice-Chairs of the event stated, "My heart is to see souls won to the Kingdom of God." Taylor served as a catalyst to get Graham to consider coming to Buffalo when over a year ago he began getting pastors together and drafting a formal invitation to The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Taylor went on to say, "We have an opportunity to work together in our Father's field, we are well on our way to receiving a harvest of souls."
Preston Parrish, Executive Vice President of Ministry at the Billy Graham Evangelical Association and long time personal friend of Franklin Graham, shared the keynote address of the morning talking in length about what "time" it is in the world, suggesting that we are closer than many understand to the coming of the Lord. He said, "The hour is late and the time is ticking away." Parrish shared that there are two opposing trends in our culture. On one hand people are hungrier than ever for spiritual things, on the other the culture continues to move further from God and the resulting secularization of society. Parrish warned of the threat of Islamic growth and the deteriorating culture and the need to reach our youth, "We must fight for the souls of our young people," he warned the packed audience at the Hyatt. He then went on to encourage attendees, "Nothing excites God more than people talking about his Son Jesus....now is the time to do something." Parrish concluded his sobering 30 minute or so address with exuberant thanks and acceptance of the invitation to preach the gospel in Buffalo, "We are delighted to be with you."
Festival Director Sherman Barnett encouraged attendees to pray, "Do it again, Lord" after attendees raised hands to show those who knew someone impacted in Buffalo by the 1988 Crusade. Sherman encouraged attendees that in order for the festival to be successful thousands of people and hundreds of churches need to be involved in the process of making this event a success. "When will another opportunity like this come to Buffalo?," Sherman asked the crowd of well over 350. "Maybe 10-15-20 years? Maybe never? We need as many believers as possible as we prepare for the harvest."
Leaders in attendance were encouraged to get their congregation and partners involved in this massive outreach that has led a team of four Billy Graham Evangelistic Association staffers to be take up offices in Getzville to mobilize as many people as possible for the upcoming festival this September.
Scheduled Events include seminars, breakfasts, prayer rallies and more as believers across the region are encouraged to be a part. Believers are asked to:
1) Pray-asking God for revival in the Great Lakes Region
2) Train- The BGEA is offering a Christian Life and Witness Course for adults and FM419 for youth
3) Serve- Community Action Projects are taking place in impoverished neighborhoods
4) Proclaim- counselors are needed at the event for those looking to put their training to good use.
More information can be found at www.billygraham.org/buffalo