Celebration in Rankin Inlet reminds woman of 1978 Crusade

50 years ago, Mary Fredlund attended a Billy Graham Crusade in Toronto. Now, Billy's grandson is coming to her town.

When Mary Fredlund was a teenager in 1978, she attended the Billy Graham Crusade at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens.

“It was amazing,” the now-63-year-old recalls; so amazing that Fredlund wrote to Mr. Graham, asking him to visit her church youth group.

Mr. Graham wasn’t able to accommodate her youthful request. But Fredlund is delighted that Will Graham, Billy’s eldest grandchild, is preparing to preach where she has lived for 30 years—in Rankin Inlet, 2,280 kilometers northwest of Toronto, on the icy shores of Hudson Bay.

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association of Canada’s first-ever Celebration of Hope (COH) in the Arctic will be held in Rankin Inlet on Oct. 26-27 in the local community center. Leading up to that major outreach event, which will feature Will Graham’s Gospel messages plus live music and powerful personal testimonies, will be several months of evangelism training, prayer times, and worship events.

“I’m really excited about the COH coming to Rankin Inlet because it gives Christians and churches an opportunity to work together, and an opportunity for the people of Rankin Inlet to learn Christ is still relevant in 2018,” Fredlund said.

A professional counselor whose specialty is helping men manage their anger and avoid inflicting family violence, Fredlund said there are lots of broken people in Rankin Inlet and other parts of the Canadian Arctic who need Christ in their lives.

“There are people who do very well, but there are also those who really struggle with addictions, (and) the residential school situation has left many people not knowing how to be parents. Their children are feeling that lack of being able to give guidance and to help with some of their problems.”

Fredlund says the Celebration is “a really good opportunity for not only Christians to come together and work towards a project, but also to have an (evangelistic) outreach and give people more hope and maybe present the Gospel to them in a way they’ve never heard before.”

“I’m really excited about the COH coming to Rankin Inlet because it gives Christians and churches an opportunity to work together, and an opportunity for the people of Rankin Inlet to learn Christ is still relevant in 2018.”

Her mother was a Christian, and Fredlund accepted Jesus into her life at an early age while living in Rankin Inlet. When she reached her teens—a time when many young people waver in their faith—Fredlund was firm. She went to Bible school, then met and married a man eager to be a pilot flying missionaries around the world. Sadly, her husband died in a plane crash while they were living in Manitoba.

Mary was left to raise their four sons. God brought a new man into her life. They married and moved to Rankin Inlet. Unfortunately, Mary was suffering emotionally, and that resulted in lots of marital strife.

“In the first few years of my second marriage, there were many times it seemed as if my life wasn’t really worth living (and) it was very difficult to find hope.”

Fredlund sought counseling. It helped her so much that it inspired her to return to school and study Christian counseling. She eventually earned a Master’s degree.

Fredlund now works with the Nunavut court system counseling men to control their anger. Much of her case load involves helping men work through painful periods in their past. For many Inuit, that includes being forced into residential schools, far from their loved ones.

“Their life stories sometimes aren’t very conducive to healthy relationships,” Fredlund noted. “My hope is that as they start being a little healthier (emotionally) and making healthier choices . . . God can come and speak to their hearts.”

The Celebration of Hope offers an “amazing opportunity” to speak into many people’s hearts, she said.