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More than 15,000 make decisions during Indiana Graham crusade

INDIANAPOLIS (BP)–The RCA Dome in downtown Indianapolis hosts a National Football League franchise and an occasional NCAA basketball Final Four, but the Indianapolis Colts on their best day could not have warranted as heartfelt an ovation, no NCAA basketball champion as sincere a gesture of appreciation as was witnessed in the dome on June 6. After preaching the gospel to more than 210 million people in more than 185 countries over the last 50 years, Graham, during the last night of his 1999 Indiana Crusade, brought 42,000 people to their feet in the RCA Dome in a show of genuine praise for the work God began in 1934 in the life of a 16-year-old North Carolina farm boy.
In a news conference prior to the June 3-6 crusade, Graham made it clear he claims no credit for the success his ministry has experienced. “You have to understand, I don’t carry the secret to a successful evangelistic crusade in my briefcase,” he said. “This is the work of God. He is the one who brings the increase. He is the one who deserves all the credit.”
In the recent crusade, attendance topped 193,000, with 15,328 of those making some sort of decision for Christ. Fifty-five percent (8,425 people) were for salvation, 1,048 came for assurance and 5,260 for rededication. There were 203 inquiries, and 392 people came for a variety of other unspecified, reasons. All this makes the 1999 crusade the most successful of Graham’s three crusades in Indiana. In 1959, the first time Billy Graham came to Indiana, 327,000 people attended a 24-day crusade at the Coliseum on the fairgrounds. More than 9,300 people came forward to make a decision for Christ during that time.
In 1980 Graham returned for a 10-day crusade at Market Square Arena in which 141,000 people attended and approximately 6,000 made a commitment to Christ.
“We are delighted to be here in Indianapolis once again, where we received such a warm welcome at our two previous crusades in 1959 and 1980,” said Graham just prior to the start of the 1999 crusade. “I thank God that he has again given us the opportunity to again bring his message to the city that is the ‘crossroads of America,’ a gateway between the East and the West, the North and the South. Thousands of people received the gospel message on our two previous visits, and many of their lives were changed.”
Several special guests appeared along with Graham, including the Gaither Vocal Band, Deion Sanders, Ricky Skaggs and the Kentucky Thunder Band, NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon, contemporary gospel singer CeCe Winans and Sen. Daniel R. Coats.
Saturday, June 5, was highlighted by two special programs. The morning session, titled “Kidz Gig,” featured Psalty the Singing Song Book & Friends and a 2,000-voice children’s choir. Saturday evening was the “Concert for the Next Generation.” Four-time Dove Award winner Anointed was followed by Audio Adrenaline and Michael W. Smith in a Christian concert designed to serve as an “interpreter” between Graham and the Indiana youth he was trying to reach.
“In a society in transition such as ours, reaching all audiences, not just young people, has become increasingly difficult,” said Graham. “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, just as we use contemporary Christian music to reach new generations with the gospel message.”
While most people only saw the four days of preaching and worship at the RCA Dome during the crusade, in reality the event was only the culmination of an entire year’s worth of work. The kickoff for the 1999 Indiana Crusade occurred in June 1998. Planning meetings began, and local leaders recruited churches to help in a number of ways.
“Never having been a part of a Billy Graham crusade, there was no way I could have known the amount of work it would take to accomplish everything that was accomplished,” said David Wheeler, director of evangelism for the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana and a member of the Indiana Billy Graham Crusade general committee.
“The thing we need to remember is this: The crusade is a microcosm of what can happen when Christian people come together for the single purpose of evangelism. People sacrificed their time, their money, they adjusted their schedules, it was amazing. And they did it for the one single purpose of reaping the harvest.
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association already is preparing for a crusade in St. Louis Oct. 14-17, but the work continues in Indianapolis.
“We trust that by hearing the gospel during this crusade, many people will come to faith in Christ, who can help them rebuild every area of their lives,” Graham said. “The byproduct of this relationship with God can transform families, churches and communities. In Christ, I believe that Indianapolis can discover a new hope for peace and unity in the future.”

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  • Chip Bayer