After years of planning and setbacks, Franklin Graham’s “God Loves You” tour of the United Kingdom is in full swing.
“Franklin Graham will join Christians in the United Kingdom to share the hope of Jesus Christ,” the About page for the event’s website states. “These are not just 1-day events. They are the culmination of months of prayer, planning, and training to equip the local church. Learn about the process and all that is involved from the beginning to the end.”
With the help of more than 2,000 UK-based churches, the event hit Liverpool, Newport and Sheffield over a three-day period last month and will continue in London in July.
Graham is scheduled to do the same tour in the United States in the fall, going through cities such as Waukesha, Wisconsin; Rochester, Minnesota; and Flint, Michigan.
The event aims to share the gospel with those who might not have never heard. Christians were urged to invite friends, acquaintances and family members to attend in the hopes that they would be presented with a clear message and provided an opportunity to repent.
So far, of 11,000 attendees of the three events held so far, over 700 gave their lives to Jesus at the event and have been given resources and connected to churches to help them continue to grow, according to Faithwire.
“We’ve been training people in the local churches to lead small groups, we call discovery groups, to which inquiries are referred,” said Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s (BGEA) UK Director Robert Chilvers.
“It’s encouraging to hear that many churches are establishing these groups especially to care for those who are making a response to the Gospel.”
After the Liverpool event, Graham took to Facebook to share how wonderful everything had been.
“It was a great night in Liverpool,” he wrote on May 14. “I told the crowd that people are searching for purpose and meaning and they’re not finding it. We have a vacuum in our souls that only God can fill. God loves us and He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, from heaven to earth to save us from our sins, and ‘…whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life’ (John 3:16).
“We thank God and give Him the glory for all those who responded to the invitation to put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Their lives are changed for eternity!
The tour initially was set for 2020 but was canceled amid growing fears of the coronavirus pandemic. Though it was put on hold for two years, some are saying the timing was nothing short of providential.
“There is a real sense that we’re here for this time, and what Franklin was talking about we feel very similarly that God has stepped in and this is a key time for the proclamation of the Gospel, especially emerging out of the pandemic and the results of the pandemic,” Chilvers said.
“But now emerging from that, we feel very much not only that we have the opportunity, but we can encourage other churches to take the opportunity to proclaim the Gospel boldly and clearly.”
“If ever the UK needed the message of the Good News of Jesus Christ, it is now!” the Rev. Paul James, senior pastor at Harrow International Christian Centre in London, told the Billy Graham Evangelical Association.
“The nation has been gripped with sorrow and the pain of loss. Many have lost hope and they are filled with anxiety and worry over the direction the world is heading. The answer can only be found in Jesus Christ. We desperately need the God Loves You Tour, and we look forward to hearing Franklin Graham share the most important message the world will ever hear.”
As the tour neared, it still faced opposition, especially from LGBT activists and allies who found Graham’s traditional approach to marriage and biblical sexuality abhorrent. There were protests, and some called Graham a “hate” preacher.
BGEA said its advertisements for the tour simply asked people if they were “looking for something more” and were inoffensive.
“There is nothing offensive in these advertisements,” BGEA told the Christian Broadcasting Network. “The objection is to Rev. Franklin Graham and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association based on our Christian beliefs. Unfortunately, this opposition is familiar and predictable.”