Thousands hear Will Graham in Kalgoorlie

Nearly 6000 people heard US evangelist Will Graham preach in Kalgoorlie over the weekend. Over a packed three days in the central Western Australian city, 550 people in the crowd came forward to make a personal response to the message of Jesus.

Many Australians will know of the tensions in the Kalgoorlie region over the death of a young indigenous man Elijah Doughty in 2016. He was run down by a local driving a 4WD trying to retrieve a stolen motorcycle. The case caused riots in Kalgoorlie and simmering tension has continued in the city.

The Goldfields Celebration is a great example of churches working together …

Yet, in a successful effort to show unity, a team of leaders from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association from Australia, supported by a team from Canada, worked for two years to ensure the Goldfields Celebration occurred and included all of the 17 churches across the community.

The event included a youth program on Friday night, Kidsfest on Saturday morning, gospel music event on Saturday afternoon, a gospel event Saturday night, combined church service Sunday morning and gospel event on Sunday night. With a total population of just 30,000 people in the Kalgoorlie Boulder area, attendance figures of 5900 was a significant achievement.

The program itself was a mix of international guests and local artists. Country music and gospel musician Steve Grace has been in the area for the past five weeks, visiting outlying communities, many of them indigenous and inviting people to attend. Many took up the challenge to travel to Kalgoorlie for the celebration. American band the Afters were an highlight for attenders. Steve Grace and the Afters used a combination of quality music and videos with high production values in their brackets.

The Goldfields Celebration also featured the remarkable talent of indigenous Christian musicians. Over the weekend, The Brownley Gospel Singers performed, who included Linden Brownley, a well-known Kalgoorlie City Councilor. Also featured was Pastor Ben Hakalitz, the drummer for Yothu Yindi who recently performed at Commonwealth Games – and toured with Midnight Oil – and Pastor Joe Pulea, an associate from Living Light Gospel Church.

Will Graham has a love for regional areas in Australia

A special highlight of the weekend was the combined worship service on Sunday morning. Just under 1700 people attended this worship service filled with energy, celebration, passionate worship and a clear gospel challenge. The worship was led by Rob Scott the worship Pastor from Margaret Courts church, Victory Life in Perth. The musicians and choir were all from local churches. The choir was made of people from several nationalities, many from Africa. The Africans’ natural and authentic expression of culture and worship through the music at this service was infectious. It was a surprise to come to central Australia and experience worship with an international flavour at an event like this.

At each of the events Will Graham, Billy Graham’s grandson, presented the gospel and asked people to make a choice to follow Jesus. Will Graham has come to Australia many times over the past decade, exclusively to regional areas. He has a love for these areas in Australia and his respect for our country and people is evident each time he speaks. The gospel is presented clearly and respectfully and at each gathering many from all ages and many nationalities responded.

The Goldfields Celebration is a great example of churches working together, of cooperation between Australian ministry leaders and resources from the US and Canada. There is no doubt that the church must use a variety of approaches and styles to be effective in sharing Jesus across our nations. Events like the Goldfields Celebration show that large-scale events still have a place in evangelism.

Karl Faase is CEO of Olive Tree Media, Board Chair for BGEA and Samaritan’s Purse Australia

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