Graham's first Hispanic-American festival drew thousands in Los Angeles


LOS ANGELES — Franklin Graham, who has followed his father Billy's footsteps into the arena of evangelistic crusades, drew nearly 20,000 Hispanics to his June 25 and 26 Festival de Esperanza at the Home Depot Center.

Translated as Festival of Hope, the event was Graham's first-ever event targeting America's growing Hispanic population and was presented in both English and Spanish.

"This is an important community in America," Graham said in a statement. "Our hope is the Hispanic community in Los Angeles knows that God loves them."

According to organizers, 1,500 festivalgoers responded to the two altar calls. CBN reported that more than 600 churches worked together to produce the event.

Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the international Christian relief organization Samaritan's Purse, said the Los Angeles event was significant in that the city served as a major launching point for his father during an eight-week tent crusade there in 1949. Fifty-five years later, he returned for a crusade at the Rose Bowl.

The most recent Festival de Esperanza event featured nightly translated messages from Graham, coupled with energetic music from popular artists including Daniel Calveti, Israel Houghton, Lily Goodman, Dennis Agajanian, the Gutierrez Brother and the Tommy Coomes Band.

Children were treated to a special Festiniños program on Saturday morning.

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

Local pastors said the region, which has more than 4.7-million native Spanish speakers, was in desperate need of the gospel.

"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."

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