Historic Franklin Graham Festival in Portugal nears

The Festival of Hope (Festival da Esperança) with Franklin Graham will be held in Lisbon, Portugal, April 7-8. This is Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s first-ever Crusade event in Portugal, as well as Franklin Graham’s first time preaching since his father’s passing in February.
Lisbon, Portugal, is the oldest city in Western Europe. Built on seven hills, tuk-tuks and trams are a common way of travel. Closely resembling the Golden Gate Bridge, the Ponte 25 de Abril Lisbon suspension bridge is a route some will take to attend the Festival, located in a 19th century bullfighting ring in Lisbon.
There has been a desire for a large-scale evangelistic event in this country for decades. Billy Graham was set to preach in Portugal in the 1970s, but the Carnation Revolution halted those plans. Despite receiving thousands of letters requesting he visit, the peaceful coup in Portugal proved to be too risky of a time.
In 2015, the doors started to finally open once again for the BGEA to come to Portugal. Franklin Graham held BGEA’s first-ever Festival in Spain. A team of church leaders from Portugal attended that Barcelona event and offered an official invitation for BGEA to finally make its way to their country.
Nearly 400 churches from various denominations are involved in the Lisbon Festival. The free event has already generated so many pre-bookings, a second service had to be added to both Saturday and Sunday’s Festival plans.
Around 900 volunteer applications have been sent in from people wanting to help counsel those who walk forward to make a decision for Christ during the Lisbon Festival.
The two-day event will include performances by popular Portuguese artist Heber Marques, Brazilian singer Ana Paula, The Afters, and the 450-member Hope Choir. Dennis Agajanian and the Tommy Coomes Band will also take the stage.
The Christo Rei is an iconic statue of Christ blessing the city. The statue was built during a very religious time after World War II, out of gratefulness from being spared from the terrors of the war. Since then, church attendance has declined and many young people are drifting away from their faith.
With a population of nearly 3 million people, there is a huge spiritual opportunity in this ancient capital city. Although there is a strong presence of Catholicism throughout Lisbon, many are missing a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Among the many notable landmarks of Lisbon, Franklin Graham is praying Christ will make an imprint on the Festival attendees’ souls.
“There is a great need for the church in Portugal to experience God’s timing and God’s presence,” Hans Mannegren, BGEA’s director of European affairs. “As some of the church leaders have said, ‘It can’t stop here’ [with this event].”