The Graham legacy impacts Canada

Canadian Christianity
October 5, 2006
Peter Biggs

If Billy Graham has been the agent of spiritual birth for thousands, his own family continues to have an influence on the masses. Last weekend Canada experienced the Graham family legacy in Toronto and Victoria, as daughter Anne and grandson Will both led large gatherings.

Anne Graham Lotz, 58, was the keynote speaker at the women's conference 'Just Give Me Jesus' (JGMJ) held September 29 - 30 in Toronto's Air Canada Centre. In an interview on CBC's The Hour, Lotz stated, "My primary gifting and call is not evangelism. I know that may be confusing for some. The evangelist is like an obstetrician, one who oversees births, I'm more like a pediatrician, helping new believers grow up."

Like her father, Lotz is very clear about her message, "The message is one word: Jesus," she said emphatically. "I believe the Bible is God's word." It was a word that thousands of mostly women eagerly listened to in Toronto, with what appeared to be a nearly full Air Canada Centre (the venue holds 20,000).

Brigitte Foisy, co-chair of public relations for JGMJ, said she was very surprised by the number of nationalities represented there, "including many from the Arab community. I was also impressed that there was no one age group. All ages were represented."

She said thousands of response cards were flooding in, and over 200 follow-up Bible studies are currently being organized by JGMJ in the Greater Toronto area. The studies begin October 16, and each one lasts seven weeks.

"It all represents a year's worth of preparation," said Foisy, "with concerted effort made to reach out to the Arab community and others. Numerous churches were involved."

At exactly the same time in Victoria, Anne's nephew Will Graham, the 31-year-old son of Franklin and grandson of Billy, led thousands of youth at the large Save On Foods Centre in an event called 'Epicentre ignition.' It marked the culmination of months of youth events.

Dion Collins, spokesperson for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association of Canada, which organized the series of events, told, "All our expectations were exceeded with 4500 tickets sold, and around 200 people, mostly teenagers making decisions for Christ" in response to Will's talk.

"The results," said Collins, "doesn't even take into account that around 50 churches from the Greater Victoria area played a role in Epicentre' 15 of which were essential. We trained 275 counselors as well."

Back in Toronto, Lotz followed in her father's footsteps in one other regard, by giving a speech over lunch to Canada's business elite at the Empire Club in Toronto -- a venue that had hosted her father 11 years previous.

The Canadian Press reported that Lotz shared the head table with "top Bay St. investment managers and business executives, including the head of Caldwell Securities and a top official at Research in Motion, the company that developed the Blackberry."

It was also reported that the event had to be moved to the Metro Convention Centre to accommodate a crowd of about 450, "roughly twice the number usually attending the club's luncheons at a downtown hotel."

John Niles, president of the club and a United Church minister, called on those present to contribute financially to Lotz's revival meetings.

BBB Festival of Hope My Hope with Billy Graham

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association of Canada

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