By Dana Smith | First Published: April 14, 2015
On April 8th it was a packed house—and then some—of residents of Whitehorse, Yukon, with everyone there to excitedly welcome the Celebration of Hope with Will Graham to their northern community this fall.
Whitehorse is one of three Celebration destinations in Canada in which Graham, God willing, will share the Gospel in 2015. He’s scheduled to be there on Oct. 16 and 17, after visiting the Siksika First Nation near Calgary on Oct. 15 and before Fort McMurray, AB, on Nov. 14 and 15.
Praises to God and hands were raised at the praise and worship event at Riverdale Baptist Church.
The recent Celebration launch event in Whitehorse featured a night of praise and worship at Riverdale Baptist Church. There were leaders and members from a several churches in Whitehorse and the surrounding area. Some guests drove three hours to attend!
“We’re excited that God keeps opening doors for us in ministry,” said Dave Ingram, Ministry Director of Billy Graham Evangelistic Association of Canada, which is organizing the Celebration in partnership with local churches in each of the three communities.
Dave Ingram, Ministry Director of Billy Graham Evangelistic Association of Canada, addresses the crowd gathered in Whitehorse.
“This is the first time that we’ll be doing an outreach in the northern territories,” Ingram told Whitehorse residents. “We’re excited to be partnering with you, and people like you, in Whitehorse and the surrounding areas to lift up the name of Jesus and point people to Him as our only source of hope.”
He told more than 230 listeners that BGEAC events like Will Graham Celebrations lead people to Christ who might not otherwise be reached with the Gospel. And Celebrations—because they require months of evangelism training and planning involving a broad spectrum of a city’s Christian faith community—build unity in reaching new believers and supporting them after they’ve made their decisions for Christ.
Other BGEA representatives explained the value and importance of all the Celebration of Hope phases, which include Christian Life and Witness Course (for all ages) and FM419 (aimed at young people). These phases help Christians deepen their walk with Christ and equip them to share their faith with friends and loved ones.
Another phase, Community Action Projects, takes Christians into their community to do improvement work, such as graffiti removal and neighborhood cleanup. Along the way, God gives them opportunities to tell curious residents the reason for their work.
Through a video that was taped in advance from his North Carolina home, Will Graham greeted and encouraged Christians in Whitehorse.
Local pastors said they’re excited to welcome Graham, who, like his grandfather Billy in the early days in his ministry, will be preaching inside a large tent. In Whitehorse, that will be in scenic Shipyards Park.
Pastors Greg Anderson and Rob Young, co-chairs of the local Celebration of Hope organizing committee are convinced the evangelistic ministry will be a valuable outreach for the city and surrounding area.
Pastors Rob Young and Greg Anderson (right), are co-chairs of the Whitehorse Celebration of Hope organizing committee.
“Jesus called us to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth,” said Anderson. “And here were are, from the perspective of Jerusalem to Whitehorse, at the ends of the earth. It’s time for us, as churches, to reach out in this unique way to present the Gospel to the citizens of Yukon.”
Young, who moved to Whitehorse from Vancouver 13 years ago, said he has been at events with some of the Christian performance artists confirmed for the Yukon event—rapper Manafest and illusionist Brock Gill—who have unique ways to challenge audiences.
“I’ve seen the results,” Young said. “You can hear a pin drop as Christians and non-Christians are presented with the Gospel. Even though I would think that non-believers would be getting up and checking out (or leaving, during the presentation of the Gospel), they’re hungry and they’re listening. They want to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ.”
Anderson said, on average, it takes non-Christians as many as seven positive experiences with Christians before they’ll consider taking a leap to faith in Christ.
“I believe this (Celebration) event might be the tipping point for many of them,” said Young. “This might be that link that they need, and I’m so grateful for this opportunity.”