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Graham taps Christian music as his ‘interpreter’ to reach today’s youth

INDIANAPOLIS (BP)–Forty-two thousand youth with different skin colors and from different denominations crammed into the RCA Dome the night of June 5 to see and hear what all the hype was about. Billy Graham had come to share a message with the youth of Indiana and he had brought several well-known friends with him to get his message across.
In a June 1 news conference, Graham had said he needed an interpreter to communicate with today’s youth, because at times they seem to speak a different language.
“Contemporary Christian music sometimes acts like an interpreter for me,” Graham said. “Although the message remains the same, our methods often must change in order to communicate that message. New tools of outreach and forms of expression must be used.”
Three Christian music groups joined Graham in Indianapolis to become that mouthpiece of the gospel.
Anointed, a contemporary gospel group from Columbus, Ohio, is a three-time Dove Award winner and a Grammy Award nominee for best contemporary soul gospel recorded song of the year. Audio Adrenaline, a Christian alternative-punk band, has impressed both Christian and mainstream audiences with their energetic and musical ferocity. Audio A. has garnered numerous Dove nominations, Billboard and Grammy nominations and has received media coverage in Rolling Stone and Spin magazines. Michael W. Smith has produced 11 albums over the last 15 years selling more than 6 million albums, including five gold records and one platinum record. Smith has won two Grammy Awards, 11 Dove Awards and one American Music Award.
Da’dra Crawford of Anointed said they came with Graham to help package his message in a way young people could understand. “I think Jesus did that very thing with parables,” Crawford said. “He took spiritual principles of the kingdom and wrapped them in analogies and stories in ways that we can understand them better.”
Crawford said the group tried to take the message of the gospel and its spiritual principles and put them inside musical packages for the younger generation.
Mark Stuart of Audio Adrenaline said the entire band was dedicated to proclaiming Christ. “We want kinds today to see they can have a good time and be a Christian,” Stuart said. “We put on a real rock ‘n’ roll show, but Jesus Christ is our hero, and we try to get kids’ eyes off of us and on to him.”
In a time where there are no absolutes, Stuart said, the messages youth are receiving today often are contradictory to the Word of God.
“The world tells young people to do whatever makes them feel good,” Stuart said. “This kind of attitude pushes youth toward hopelessness and depression due to the lack of faith in God.” During the four-day crusade in Indianapolis, Graham repeatedly referred to the Columbine High School tragedy and the needs of Generation Xers.
“Young people need something to hold on to and believe in. Unfortunately, that search leads them to drugs and violence, and like the Columbine High School kids, it leads them to hate,” Graham said. “The students at Columbine High all had great dreams for their lives, but they never entertained the thought they’d never live to see their dreams fulfilled.”
Michael W. Smith, who sang at the Columbine High School memorial service, said he wanted to show the youth in Littleton a glimmer of hope.
“I have a great desire in my heart for kids,” Smith said. “Playing at the memorial service renewed my spirit for youth. I know we can win this battle.”
Graham shared the now familiar story of Cassie Bernall and Rachel Scott, Columbine students who died while standing up for their faith in God, to thousands of desperate eyes wanting answers to the recent tragedy. He urged students, not only in the RCA Dome but around the country, to have the courage to surrender their lives to Christ.
Graham left the youth with one explosive question: “Cassie and Rachel were faced with the ultimate peer pressure: the barrel of a gun,” he said. “Would any of you have done the same thing?”
Then, during the invitation, the messengers gave way to the message and watched as 4,397 youth flooded the isles and the floor of the RCA Dome taking their first step toward standing strong in a world of tragedy and giving their hearts and lives to Christ.

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  • Melissa King