NEW ORLEANS (BP)--In what he called his last sermon, Billy Graham voiced a message of thanks and encouragement during the March 11-12 “Celebration of Hope” at the New Orleans Arena.
“This is probably the last evangelistic sermon I’ll ever preach,” the 87-year-old evangelist told an overflow crowd of 17,800 people on Sunday. “But it’s been wonderful to be here. Thank you.
“I’d like to thank my friends George Beverly Shea and Cliff Barrows for all these years we’ve been together,” Graham continued as he sat on a special chair that raised him to the wooden pulpit’s appropriate height, as thousands of cameras flashed throughout the arena.
|Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder perform for the “Celebration of Hope” featuring Billy and Franklin Graham in the New Orleans Arena.Photo by Jerry Ward/Genesis 2006
“I look forward to a big reunion one day in heaven,” Graham said. “God bless you all.”
Graham’s last visit to the city was a six-week crusade 52 years ago. This time, he delivered a single 22-minute message of hope to a city desperately in need of encouragement.
Graham said he watched in shock as Hurricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans’ levee system, flooding much of the city.
But days later, he said, “We saw the great men and women who helped carry people [to safety] in helicopters ... and we knew the God of love was watching over us. God loves you.”