Mississippi College Welcomes Central Mississippi Will Graham Celebration
Mississippi College leaders, area pastors, and Clinton city officials will join forces to host the Central Mississippi Will Graham Celebration.
Preaching the gospel at the event at MC’s A.E. Wood Coliseum March 28-30, 2014, Will Graham helped energize organizers at a luncheon Thursday at MC’s Anderson Hall.
“Pray that I will make the word of God known to another generation,” Graham told 300 luncheon guests, including MC President Lee Royce and Clinton Mayor Phil Fisher. “We need to ask God to move in this city,” he said. “We are trying to win over a generation that doesn’t know Jesus.”
The grandson of legendary 94-year-old evangelist Billy Graham, Will Graham brought excitement to the roomful of 300 guests on the Clinton campus. His 2013 schedule includes similar celebrations to spread the good news about Jesus Christ to Kenya, Japan and Thailand. Japan will be his next stop this fall.
“God will do neat things here,” said Don Lum, state evangelism director of the Mississippi Baptist Convention after hearing Graham’s speech and the prayers that followed. “This will be great. It will be an opportunity for men and women to be trained in a culture that needs it.”
Lum was among the thousands of people flocking to one of Billy Graham’s memorable crusades in the 1970s at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson.
Jerry Rankin, a longtime Southern Baptist Convention leader and Christian Studies instructor at Mississippi College, vividly recalls the Billy Graham crusade he attended in Jackson in 1952.
“I was saved at a Billy Graham crusade as a ten-year-old,” Rankin said. The event was held at the old football stadium behind the former Bailey Junior High off North State Street. Sixty-one years later, the MC graduate plans to be involved in Billy Graham’s grandson’s 2014 celebration in Clinton.
Will is the third generation of Grahams to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ under the banner of the Charlotte, North Carolina-based Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. He also serves as executive director of the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in Asheville, N.C.
With the famed North Carolina preacher celebrating his 95th birthday in 2014, the programs on Mississippi College’s Clinton campus will be free and open to the public.
Mayor Fisher is leading the Celebration Executive Team that will receive help from volunteers representing churches and denominations across the region. Neddie Winters, the leader of the Mission Mississippi that promotes racial reconciliation in churches across the Magnolia State, says his organization will help provide assistance.
The celebration, Mayor Fisher said, will give people time to “stop and reflect, a time to hear the teachings of Christ and reassess our priorities.”
Working to reach young people in a new generation in a rapidly changing world won’t be easy.
“But it’s been hard for every generation,” Graham said. “The best way to get young people involved is to get their friends involved.”
The oldest son of Franklin Graham, and 1997 Liberty University graduate, Will Graham received a master’s in divinity at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary at Wake Forest, N.C. in 2001 and served for five years as a Baptist church pastor in North Carolina.
Graham said he’s happy Mississippi College will host the celebration at the Golden Dome, the facility that’s normally the home of MC Choctaws basketball teams and college graduations. “This is a great facility here,” he said. “It’s a beautiful campus.”
Founded in 1826, Mississippi College is the nation’s second oldest Baptist college. MC has been affiliated with the Mississippi Baptist Convention since 1850. Leaders of MC’s Office of Christian Development led by vice president Eric Pratt helped sponsor the kickoff luncheon.
Kass Welclin, executive director of the Youth for Christ office in Jackson, believes the 2014 celebration will attract many young people, just like the Billy Graham crusades did years ago. “I watched one of his (Billy Graham’s) crusades. It was so nourishing to my soul.”
For more information about the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, visit www.billygraham.org or call 1-877-4GRAHAM.