More than 600 Hispanic churches in the greater Los Angeles area are joining with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association this weekend to participate in the "Festival de Esperanza con Franklin Graham," when the son of iconic evangelist Billy Graham will deliver a message of hope for the Hispanic community.
The Festival of Hope will feature nightly messages from Franklin Graham in his first evangelistic event in Los Angeles, as well as music from popular Christian and Hispanic artists. It will stream live at the association's website
at 10 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday and at 8 p.m. on Sunday.
"Our hope is that anyone who is struggling with questions about life or would like a new beginning will watch this Festival of Hope," said Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the international Christian relief organization Samaritan's Purse.
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The City of Angels is where Billy Graham first gained attention, when he preached in a tent for eight weeks straight to a total of 350,000 people in 1949.
Los Angeles is home to the largest Hispanic population in the country. Though largely considered religious, many are just nominal believers, Isaac Canals, pastor of Mission Ebenezer Family Church, says in a video message in a connection with the festival.
“Most Latino families are already very religious; they are Catholic, nominal Catholic families with a deep religious heritage,” Canals says. “It’s just that they don’t go to church and they are not saved; they don’t know the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Churches hope especially to reach gang members at the event. Arturo Fierros, a former gang member in L.A., told the Christian Post that the number of gangs has increased from his time as a youth, from 40 to about 1,108 in Los Angeles County alone.
“The enemy is running out of time, so sin is progressing,” Fierros said.
Nearly 50 percent of all gang members are Hispanic, according to some statistics.
Since 1989, Franklin Graham has convened an average of seven festivals each year as an evangelist for the Charlotte, N.C.-based association.
Festivals remaining after Los Angeles will take place Aug. 20 and 21 in Milwauke, Aug. 27 and 28 in Denver, Sept. 17 and 18 in Winnipeg, Canada, Oct. 28-30 in Vilnius, Lithuania, and Nov. 10-13 in Hyderabad, India.
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