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Graham’s medical care prompts plans for high-tech link to Amsterdam 2000

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Billy Graham’s participation in his Amsterdam 2000 evangelism conference will be limited to a satellite-beamed TV linkup, according to a July 20 news release, which reported that the 81-year-old evangelist is receiving outpatient care for fluid build-up in his brain.

The evangelism-oriented conference is expected to draw more than 10,000 participants from more than 190 countries to the RAI Centre in The Netherlands.

On the Internet, daily video and audio from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association-sponsored Amsterdam 2000 conference, beginning with a July 28 news conference, will be accessible at Crosswalk.com, a Christian news and information site.

The sessions will be available at Crosswalk.com in English and four other languages — Spanish, French, German and Portuguese — among the 25 languages for which translation will be provided at the conference.

The July 20 BGEA news release stated that the satellite link “will give Mr. Graham the capability to speak to the conference and to interact, dialogue and participate as if he were actually physically present.”

However, a BGEA spokesperson told Baptist Press July 21 that the possibility of Graham traveling to Amsterdam to personally participate in the conference is being evaluated on a daily basis.

The news release, meanwhile, stated that Graham’s satellite link with Amsterdam 2000 “is now necessitated by his personal physical needs. He has been a patient at Mayo Clinic since June 7, and doctors have determined that he has not yet sufficiently recovered from his recent diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.” The news release quoted a statement from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., which noted, “Reverend Graham is expected to remain under the care of Mayo Clinic for an additional three to four weeks.” Continuing “his current program of physical therapy and surveillance will best ensure his ongoing ministry,” the clinic’s statement noted.

Graham was quoted as saying, “I am disappointed at this turn of events, but I have great peace that this is God’s plan for me and for the Amsterdam 2000 conference. I have experienced several deep spiritual moments during my hospitalization and feel that God has given me new vision and new strength for extended ministry in the future.”

The opening news conference in Amsterdam, in which Graham’s son Franklin will address the international media on hand for the 10-day conference, will be aired on Crosswalk.com at 10 a.m. Eastern (4 p.m. in Amsterdam) on Friday, July 28.

Thereafter, there will be three opportunities each day to watch the webcast of the July 29-Aug. 6 conference, including a daily media briefing, at http://www.crosswalk.com/billygraham.

Webcast participants will need a computer with Internet access and a sound card. Participants also must install RealPlayer or Windows Media, which are available at the Crosswalk.com Amsterdam site.

Each day’s plenary sessions over the Internet will begin at 6:45 a.m. Eastern.

Plenary session 1 and a daily news briefing will be webcast from 6:45-8:30 a.m.; plenary session 2, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.; and plenary session 3, 3:30-4:45 p.m.

Archives will be available for playback one hour after each session and will remain available for six months.

Among the plenary sessions’ featured speakers will be J.I. Packer, session 1, July 30, on “The Content of the Gospel;” John Stott, session 1, July 31, “The Evangelist’s Message Is Bible-Based;” Anne Graham Lotz, session 2, July 31, “The Evangelist and the Bible;” Bill and Vonette Bright, session 2, Aug. 3; “The Evangelist’s Inner Life;” Franklin Graham, session 3, Aug. 3, Stephen Olford, session 1, Aug. 4, “The Evangelist’s Heart of Compassion;” Paul Negrut, session 1, Aug. 5, “The Evangelist Works with the Local Church;” Luis Palau, session 2, Aug. 5, “The Evangelist Has a Strategy for Harvest;” and Billy Graham, closing session, Aug. 6, “Challenge.”

In addition to the plenary sessions and 230 workshops, three “task groups” — strategists, church leaders and theologians — will work on statements to be issued from the conference.