Graham: 1,000+ Hispanics Accept Christ at Event

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More than 1,500 Hispanics accepted Christ into their lives at Franklin Graham's "Festival de Esperanza" last weekend.

The June 25-26 event was held at the Home Depot Center Arena in Los Angeles, and was Graham's first bilingual event in the U.S.

The Billy Graham Evangelical Association worked with more 600 local Hispanic congregations to put on the Festival de Esperanza, or "Festival of Hope."

Franklin Graham started the weekend reaching out to children at a Saturday morning event, followed by two nights of public meetings for adults.

Los Angeles holds special meaning for the Graham family. Rev. Billy Graham held his 1949 Crusade in the city, then returned 55 years later to preach at the Rose Bowl.

Franklin's daughter Cissey Graham Lynch revisited the site of her grandfather's historic eight-week tent meeting at Washington and Hill Street.

"This is where it all started for my grandfather's ministry," she said. "This was his first crusade back here in 1949. And the largest erected tent California had seen. It held 6,500 people every night for eight weeks."

Festival de Esperanza organizers said their goal was to reach the more than 4.7 million native Spanish speakers in southern California. Local pastors have said this is a group that "desperately" needs to hear the gospel, and requested Graham bring his festival to their city.

"The Hispanic population in southern California is looked at and treated many times as second-class citizens," said Danny de Leon, a local pastor and co-chair of the festival. "And for a crusade to come for them sends a very important message that they are loved and cared for."

"This is hard ground," David Trujillo, pastor of Calvary Church South Central Los Angeles, told the BGEA. "It's like the enemy has a stronghold over all of L.A., with everything that it offers."

Franklin Graham is president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the international Christian relief organization Samaritan's Purse.

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