Franklin Graham Gives Father First Look at Hurricane Havoc
"My heart goes out to the people who lived here." -Billy Graham
TODAY: Grahams Encourage Hundreds of New Orleans Area Pastors at Prayer Service
Driving through the debris-littered streets of New Orleans' Ninth Ward, you find yourself surrounded by ruin. Flood waters that poured through this area lifted homes from their foundations, dropping the houses onto cars or splintering them across yards. When the water receded, it left behind piles of mud-covered debris made up of tattered clothing, broken dishes, and wrinkled family photos.
It's here that Franklin and Billy Graham took an emotional tour of the hurricane damage. As president of the international relief organization Samaritan's Purse, Franklin Graham has been deeply involved in hurricane recovery efforts, distributing some $38 million in aid. But this was his 87-year-old father's first opportunity to personally witness the massive destruction caused by the storm.
"It reminds us that there is much more to life than material things. There's a moral and spiritual strength that's needed not only here in New Orleans, but everywhere," explained the elder Graham in response to reporters who asked what can be learned from this kind of disaster. "This is a very tumultuous time and if ever the country needed to turn to God, it's now."
This tour of the hurricane damage was one of the first stops during this busy week for the Grahams. Franklin Graham, in partnership with 215 local churches, is holding a Celebration of Hope this weekend and will be joined by his father, health permitting, as he offers encouragement to the people of New Orleans.
Prior to the weekend event, the Grahams will spend time encouraging local pastors and participating in various hurricane relief efforts. The following are open to the media:
Thursday, March 9 at 11 a.m.-Special Prayer Service with New Orleans Area Pastors, First Baptist New Orleans (5290 Canal Blvd.)
Friday, March 10 at 11 a.m.-Meet with Families in 20 Donated Mobile Homes in Algiers, Greater St. Mary Baptist Church (1533 Horace Street)
Saturday, March 11 at 11 a.m.-Dedication of New Playground with Mayor of Gretna, Mel Ott Park in Gretna (2301 Belle Chasse Hwy.)
Saturday, March 11 at 7 p.m. & Sunday, March 12 at 4:00 p.m.-Celebration of Hope at New Orleans Arena
Celebration of Hope is open to the public and free of charge. In addition to a message of hope from the Grahams, the weekend event features music by award-winning artists including George Beverly Shea, Cliff Barrows, Dennis Agajanian, the Tommy Coomes Band, Point of Grace, Ricky Skaggs, Nicole C. Mullen, American Idol-finalist and New Orleans-native George Huff, and a New Orleans gospel choir.
For more information about the Celebration of Hope or to request an interview with Franklin Graham, call Jeremy Blume or Todd Shearer at 404.538.8589 or 404.314.4206 or 770.813.0000 .