THE FESTIVAL OF HOPE – A HUGE EVANGELISTIC CAMPAIGN IN LATVIA
Written by Liis Borissenko, Festival of Hope Director of Communication
Translated into English by Vineta Zale
RIGA, Latvia – More than 38,150 people participated in the Festival of Hope November 5-7 in the Arena Riga. This very special event was organized in the cooperation between 560 churches, around 4,000 volunteers and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
More then 17,000 people came in 420 busses from other cities and villages outside of Riga, driving totally 130,000 kilometers on the roads of Latvia. Guests from Lithuania and Estonia were also participating.
In addition to the Festival of Hope, a chance was granted in the spring and autumn for 264 children from very poor families to participate at camps, and during 2010, 60,000 gifts from Samaritan’s Purse were given to children. Almost 5,000 people of Latvia were given a chance to participate at free seminars about strengthening of Christian values in the society. More then 2,000 active young people met at the “Hope“ concert in the spring. In the autumn bicyclists rode for three days from Liepaja, Ventspils, Valka, Jekabpils and other places to Riga as part of “For Hope” bicycle tour.
The goal of the Festival of Hope was to proclaim the message of hope to as many people of Latvia as possible – to people of all ages, nations, social status, beliefs or political stands; and during times of crisis share the message of hope, that is founded on historical Christian values.
The guests of the festival have acknowledged the high level of organization and high quality of the events of the festival. On the first evening of the festival there were more guests than Arena Riga could hold, therefore more seats were added.
During the festival Latvian and foreign music was played, performed by well known Latvian and famous foreign artists. Among special guests there were the Dove and Grammy Award winner, Michael W. Smith, the awesome jazz piano player, Huntley Brown, guitar virtuoso Dennis Agadjanjan, and popular Latvian musicians – Ingus Pētersons, Artis Gāga, Ieva Akurātere and many others. The hall of Arena Riga had never before experienced so big of a united church choir – 800 singers. The Boys Choir of the Dome Church and the church symphonic orchestra participated as well. John and Anna Barbour had prepared a special performance for Riga – they sang the song “My Hope“ in Latvian.
The Festival of Hope happened not only in the Arena Riga. Already on October 23rd there were two events dedicated especially for children, and more then 6,000 people participated. The Festival of Hope for Children featured a play “Puzzle“, joyful music and many other activities. During the spring months of 2010, new artists and authors, age 6 to 12, painted and wrote poems for the creative competition “Paint the Hope.” These works were displayed in several cities of Latvia in a traveling exhibition.
Every evening Franklin Graham talked about places where people can base their hope on. Franklin Graham is a world-known evangelist, President of the Billy Graham evangelistic association and Executive Director of the Samaritan’s Purse.
On the first evening Franklin said, “In the small city I was studying at there was a family from Latvia. They told a lot about their country hoping that there might be a day when I could go there. Now, when we are here, we have been warmly welcomed. Latvians are very welcoming people.”
On the third day the chairman of the executive board of the festival and the Bishop of Latvian Baptist Union, Pēteris Sproģis, gave a special gift to Franklin Graham – Billy Graham’s book by, “Peace with God,” that was translated in the Soviet times and illegally copied with the typewriter.
During his visit in Latvia Franklin Graham met the President of Latvia Valdis Zatlers, the Metropolitan of the Latvian Orthodox Church Alexander and leaders of other denominations. He also gave an address at the Latvian National Prayer Breakfast.
This article was posted on the website of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. http://www.billygraham.org/articlepage.asp?ArticleID=6363