know what they are searching for. But
they realize they are not happy.”
I climb over another Christian family
seated in my row and begin to pray. I am
not praying for those who will accept
Christ tonight. I am praying that Franklin
Graham will come on before The News-
boys, because they are apparently doing a
full concert, my feet hurt and I have to
take the GO train home.
My prayer is answered.
“I love this city,” begins Graham from
the silver cross-shaped podium, down
where the Leafs normally play. “I love the
people of this city.” And so does God.
Graham does not waste time. He plunges
straight into preaching the simple, un-
changed gospel message. “Jesus Christ is
not dead. He’s alive. He’s here tonight.” It
is the path to salvation, front and centre,
simple and clear. Graham talks about cur-
rent world issues for a few moments –
same-sex marriage, ISIS, the Middle East.
Then the invitation, hinted at again
and again during the talk. “God wants to
heal you. Come. Will you come? Will you
I feel awkward in my seat, just like I do
at weddings when they ask if anyone has
an objection. This is going to go wrong,
for surely it can’t be that simple. What if
this is the first Graham crusade ever
where not a single person comes down?
I’m worried for Franklin, who is so
straightforward, so unwavering, his pleas-
ant face the picture of calm patience on
the giant video screens.
First it’s a trickle. Then a stream of
people make their way down the stairs to
the floor of the ACC. Then it really could
be called a flood. Even the nice Christian
kids in front of me stand up and go. I muse
about how their mom feels, because they
clearly already knew who Jesus is.
The next night our church’s youth
group attends. It seems I am now a Festival of Hope junkie because I watch at
home, live streaming on my iPhone. I
scan the crowd on the ACC floor for the
weird hat my son wears. As if I would see
him. As if he would have gone down. But
the next morning, when I find out he did,
something inside me warms up, softens
and overflows. My eyes fill up. And now
I know exactly how the lady in front of
me felt. /FT
Karen Stiller is a senior editor at
The Newsboys, popular with Christians since their founding in australia in 1985, performed a full
concert on the friday night