Occasionally difficult weather – including a tornado watch on Saturday night – didn’t deter the more than 7,650 who attended the three-day Ohio Valley Will Graham Celebration this weekend in Owensboro, Ky. Graham’s messages inside the glass-walled Owensboro Convention Center dealt with joy and purpose, pain and dissatisfaction. They all pointed to the hope that can be found in Christ.
“Before you were even born, before you were created, God knew you by name. It’s not an accident that you’re here tonight. It’s a divine appointment,” said Graham. “Sometimes we don’t understand the broken things in our life, but God sees a greater picture than we ever could. Why carry all the pain you have when Jesus wants to take it and carry it for you? God wants to bring you joy!”
More than 410 came forward at the invitation to begin a relationship with Jesus.
“We’ve seen hearts and lives changed. We’ve seen excitement in the air and we’ve seen people dedicate their lives to Jesus Christ. That’s what it’s all about,” said Theresa Rowe, who has served as both the executive team leader and the communications team leader throughout the months-long Celebration preparation process. “I think it can transform the entire city one person at a time, and I think what it does bring to this city is hope. That hope will spread into every area and aspect of our community.”
A KidzFest event for children was held on Saturday morning, April 25. It included games, cotton candy, a petting zoo and bounce houses outside, followed by a program of music and drama inside the Convention Center. Just one hour before the outdoor activities were scheduled to start, forecasts were still calling for a 100 percent chance of thunderstorms. However, the rain held off long enough for KidzFest to proceed.
In addition to messages from Graham, the Ohio Valley Celebration featured free concerts from top Christian bands. Dove Award-winning rock group The Afters, whose songs have been featured on television shows such as NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” and ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” performed during Friday night’s youth-focused event. Worship leader Aaron Shust, who has won Dove Awards for New Artist of the Year, Song of the Year, and Songwriter of the Year, sang every night. Rap artists Dae-Lee and Colt Graves and bluegrass band Kings Highway also performed.
On Sunday night, April 26, Will was awarded the honorary title of Kentucky Admiral by State Rep. Suzanne Miles. He was previously named a Kentucky Colonel while in Paducah for the Four Rivers Will Graham Celebration in 2007.
Just prior to arriving in Owensboro for the Ohio Valley Celebration, Graham traveled to West Virginia to launch preparations for his next domestic outreach. The Tri-State Celebration with Will Graham will take place at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington, W.Va., Nov. 6-8, 2015.