Evangelist Franklin Graham is on Saipan

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EVANGELIST Franklin Graham arrived on Saipan, Wednesday morning, and will preach at the Marianas Festival of Hope on Feb. 21 at American Memorial Park.

Evangelist Franklin Graham is on Saipan to preach at the Marianas Festival of Hope this Friday, Feb. 21, at American Memorial Park.  Photo by Lori Lyn C. Lirio

The son of the late evangelist Billy Graham, Franklin Graham is president and chief executive officer of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association or BGEA.

After Super Typhoon Yutu slammed into Saipan and Tinian in Oct. 2018, Samaritan’s Purse helped 7,600 individuals on both islands.

Franklin Graham said Samaritan’s Purse airplanes flew to the islands to bring about 80 tons of relief supplies: tarpaulins, shelter materials, water purification, and generators.

“So now that is complete — helping people physically — we now want to work with the [local] churches to do something spiritually,” he said in an interview. “The most important work that we can do for anybody is to tell them about God.”

Twenty-six Christian churches on Saipan collaborated with the BGEA to organize the Marianas Festival of Hope, which will also feature Grammy Award-winning artist Michael W. Smith and the Tommy Coomes band.

Franklin Graham noted Saipan’s economic downturn as a result of Super Typhoon Yutu and the global coronavirus outbreak.

“I know that people are very discouraged,” he said. “A lot of tourists are not coming. Flights have been canceled and some of the hotels are empty. But we hope and pray that this coronavirus will be gone soon. We pray that the economy here will do well again, that people will have jobs, and people will have work. In life, we have ups and downs. But I want people to know that regardless of whether the economy is down or up, they can have that assurance of knowing that one day when their life is over, that they’re going to be in God’s presence for eternity. We are here to share how they can have that hope and to know that their sins are forgiven.”

Earlier, Franklin Graham was criticized by various communities in the United Kingdom, including LGBTQ groups, for his stance against same-sex marriage.

However, he said, “we are not here to preach against anybody. The gay-lesbian community — we are not here to speak against them. We are here to tell people how they can have a relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ.”

Saipan, for Franklin Graham, is not an “uncharted place.” He had been here before, 15 years ago.

He said his family has a personal history and connection with the island and its people.

“My father-in-law was with the 2nd Marine Division, which came here in 1944. He was wounded and almost died here.”

For more information about the Marianas Festival of Hope, call 235-8590 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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