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Evangelist Franklin Graham shared a message of hope to thousands of people in Mongolia earlier this month.

The first-ever “Festival of Joy” drew crowds in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar on September 10 and 11. Out of the 17,300 people in attendance, more than 2,000 decided to follow Jesus, reports Canada-based Christian music radio station CHVN Radio.

“Are you broken in your spirit? Are you spiritually empty? Have you wasted your life? Will you come to Him?” the president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) asked the crowd. “You need Jesus Christ— He is the only way to God.”

You need Jesus Christ— He is the only way to God. —Franklin Graham

According to the BGEA website, nearly half of the new believers were aged 25 and under. There was a man who was both deaf and blind who committed his life to Christ with the help of an interpreter.

“So many people are searching and have an emptiness that they can’t find a way to fill—they don’t even know what they’re searching for. But God loves us and wants a relationship with us. He’s the only one who can fill that void in our lives,” Graham wrote on Facebook.

Mongolia is a predominantly Buddhist country and Christians make up only 2% of the 3.3 million population. More than 260 local churches worked together to organize the historic event which is said to be 20 years in the making. Church leaders have been coordinating with BGEA to come up with an event that would gather people interested in learning about Jesus.

“We have seen people in many other countries come to these outreaches and put their faith and trust in God’s Son Jesus Christ,” said Bayasgalan Lkhagva, pastor of Blessing Rain Church and chairman of the festival. “This is a blessing, and as Christians in Mongolia, we want to bless the people of our own country by being a part of this opportunity to tell them about God’s great love for them.”

Graham’s two-night event featured Mongolian culture through music and art. Bands and musicians from the US and other parts of the world joined Graham to praise the Lord. Before the trip, The Afters, a Christian band from the US, posted in its social media: “On our way to Mongolia! We will be joining the @BGEA for an event in the capital city Ulaanbaatar. Please pray for us as we lead music and for Franklin Graham as he shares the gospel. Praying that many come to Jesus this weekend!”

In 2018, Graham visited about 450 Mongolian children who received life-saving heart surgeries through Samaritan’s Purse. In the project, the Christian charity transported the sick child along with a parent or guardian to North America where they stayed with a Christian host family. The child had the operation in a local hospital free of charge.

“We’ve seen children and their parents come to faith in Jesus Christ. We’ve seen churches planted, all because of a simple act of love—caring for these children and bringing them to where they can be treated,” said Graham.

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