The American Memorial Park came alive in the early evening hours last Friday with an estimated 3,600 people attending the Marianas Festival of Hope, which featured Rev. Franklin Graham, who also leads relief organization Samaritan’s Purse, which helped thousands of families on Saipan and Tinian recover from Super Typhoon Yutu.
Graham, son of well-known American evangelist Billy Graham Jr. and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse, said it was a privilege to share the Gospel with the people of Saipan at the Marianas Festival of Hope.
Graham’s message centered on Mark 10:46, where blind Bartimaeus cried out for Jesus to heal him.
The 3,600 that attended the Festival of Hope at the AMP amphitheater does not include the 120 people from Tinian and Rota who watched the event live.
Before Graham stepped onto the stage, there were a lot of performances, starting with Filipina singer Margarita “ITS” Wahiman, who sang upbeat Christian songs.
Dennis Agajanian, dubbed “The World’s Fastest Guitar Picker” wowed the crowd with his guitar skills. Grammy award-winning artist Michael W. Smith played some of his biggest Gospel hits and many in the crowd sang along with him.
After Graham spoke about overcoming challenges and trials, the Tommy Coomes Band capped off the evening. The band played for more than an hour and even jammed with Agajanian.
Manuelito “Lito” Rey, the overall chairman of the local committee that organized the Marianas Festival of Hope and pastor of Cornerstone Church, was overjoyed with the successful turnout at the event.
“[There was] good weather, powerful preaching of the Gospel, amazing response of the crowd. I am grateful for the team effort exhibited by pastors, churches, committee chair and church members for the Marianas Festival of Hope,” he said.
Marilou Arriola, chairwomen of the communications committee for Marianas Festival of Hope, was also “extremely pleased” with the turnout.
“The committee and all the volunteers have worked tirelessly over the past nine months in planning and praying for this event. It was truly amazing and inspiring to see thousands of our people come for the festival. …And what a joyous occasion to see everyone celebrating and dancing to the great music from our musical guests.”
Graham and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association flew immediately to Guam after the Marianas Festival Hope as they organized the Guåhan Festival of Hope yesterday at the Guam Football Association National Training Center in Dededo.