Marianas Festival of Hope draws thousands

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MARIANAS Festival of Hope, an evangelistic event organized by the Billy Graham Evangelical Association and local Christian churches, drew thousands of people, on Friday evening at American Memorial Park. The event was also livestreamed, which allowed the participation of Tinian and Rota residents.


At American Memorial Park, the amphitheater was full, and many had to sit on the grass to listen to Rev. Franklin Graham preach, and the gospel music performed by Christian singers, including Grammy award-winning artist Michael W. Smith.

The event kicked off with the musical performance of Margarita “Its” Wahiman, music ministry leader at Victory Fort in Bonifacio Global City, the Philippines. She flew to Saipan on Friday morning to join the Hope Festival.

Dennis Agajanian, who has been named Musician of the Year six times by the Inspirational Country Music Awards and is known as “the fastest flat guitar picker,” also took the stage to perform worship songs.

For his part, Grammy award-winning singer and songwriter Michael W. Smith performed for about an hour. Many members of the audience sang along with Smith as he performed most of his hit Christian songs.

Following Smith’s performance, Rev. Graham preached about God’s forgiveness and hope that can be found in Jesus Christ.

Volunteers from various Christian churches prayed for the participants and gave them copies of the book “Living in Christ and Gospel of John.” A number of participants expressed that they “accept Jesus as their savior.”

Life in the Son Pastor Eric Abragan said Christian church leaders on Saipan thought about holding the festival when Samaritan’s Purse reached out to them after Super Typhoon Yutu devastated Saipan and Tinian in Oct. 2018.

A Christian disaster relief organization headed by Rev. Graham, Samaritan’s Purse provided 80 tons of relief supplies to the typhoon victims,

“The idea of this festival was conceived as early as the first day of the arrival of Samaritan’s Purse on Saipan,” Cornerstone Christian Church Pastor Manuelito Rey said, adding that to prepare for the festival, all the Christian pastors and church leaders held a conference.

“We all worked hard together as one body of Christ for the purpose of proclaiming the Gospel,” he added.

“God, who is present even in our suffering, would like to restore us back to him,” Pastor Rey said. “This is the very reason why we held the Marianas Festival of Hope.”

The Festival of Hope ended with the performance of the Tommy Coomes Band, which is composed of 12 singers and other musicians.

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