Because of the social problems Bolivia has been having, officials called on Christian preacher Franklin Graham to enlighten residents and boost morale. During a weekend festival, the son of famed evangelist Billy Graham spoke to people of more than 800 churches in La Paz.
“Some pastors decided to invite Franklin Graham, because we know he delivers hope,” Pastor Johnny Dueri, executive committee chairman for the March 8-10 Festival de Esperanza, told Christian news outlet Charisma News
. “Our society needs a deep change. It needs transformation. When we see violence in the family and violence in the streets, we know something is wrong in the people’s hearts.”
At first, he was afraid to come to the city because it is the highest capital city in world, with an altitude of 13,500 feet, posing a challenge for him to breathe as he addressed a crowd.
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“I wasn’t sure I would be able to preach,” Graham said. “I was afraid I may faint in front of a crowd of people, and that would be very embarrassing. But we prayed, and we felt like God was calling us to come.”
However, he arrived in the city several days early to adjust to the altitude and preached to thousands.
Juan Carlos Duarte, a Bolivian resident who attended the festival, told BillyGraham.com
that watching Graham speak was “very special.”
"I felt like I was going on the journey with them to meet God," he said.
Monica Dueri, Johnny Dueri's daughter-in-law, attended all three nights of the festival.
“There is a lot of sadness here,” she told Charisma News. “You see it on the people’s faces. And you cannot give them jobs. You cannot give them money. You cannot give them hope. It’s amazing to see how the Gospel can change and transform a community.”
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The Festival de Esperanza, which means "Festival of Hope," is the 14th Franklin Graham Festival in South America and the second one in Bolivia. The first festival was in Santa Cruz in 1999, according to BillyGraham.com.
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