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150,000 AT FINAL MEETING OF SYDNEY CRUSADE;
RESPONSE THROUGHOUT CITY CONTINUES AT UNPRECEDENTEDRATE;
AREA—WIDE VISITATION PROGRAMME [sic] HEADS FOLLOW-UP ACTIVITY
Sydney, May 12 - SPECIAL — The final meeting of the Billy Graham Crusade in Sydney sent statisticians hurrying to the record books, and has resulted in hundreds of inches of news coverage in religious and secular publications alike. By comparison with evangelistic efforts which have gone before, the Sydney Crusade stands out, in the words of one Anglican Church leader as “an unforgettable evangelistic adventure.”
The Crusade continued for four weeks -- or a total of 26 meetings. In that time the total attendance at the meetings in the Sydney Showground reached 980,000. By comparison, this total was slightly less than half of the total attendance during the sixteen weeks of the New York Crusade in l957.
During those four weeks the Team’s Associate Evangelists addressed meetings in the Sydney area with a total attendance of 55,000 persons. Land-line relay services during the two final weeks of the crusade reached audiences in communities throughout the State totalling some 300,000 persons.
No estimate has been made of the number of persons who heard the crusade meetings by radio, or who viewed them on television.
In a nation whose total population is 10,000,000, the percentage of that total population affected by this single crusade certainly represents an all-time high for any evangelistic endeavour anywhere in the world.
TWO STADIUMS IN THE RAIN
The final meeting itself wrote a new page in the record books, for it represented Australia’s largest audience for any single event, as well as being the largest single meeting which Billy Graham has ever addressed.
Sydney lacks the huge facilities of the 100,000 seat Melbourne Olympic Stadium. Acting on faith, the local Executive Committee engaged not only the Sydney Showground, but the adjoining Sydney Cricket Ground for the final meeting. By an ingenious arrangement of the programme.
Billy Graham, George Beverly Shea, Cliff Barrows and other Team members participated in the meeting in both stadiums, with the evangelistic message being heard in both places simultaneously by public address system facilities.
Sunday, May 10, began with rain -- rain which continued intermittently throughout the day, and rain which fell almost steadily during the service. Only for a few minutes did the mist clear completely and the sun break through.
Long before the scheduled 3:00 o’clock start of the service both stadiums had standing room only” available. The final total attendance was put at 150,000 -- 80,000 in the Showground and 70,000 in the Cricket Ground. The record attendance was particularly significant in view of the news released on that date that the incidence of flu had reached 30% of the population in many areas of the city.
The effectiveness of the relayed message is seen in the fact that of the more than 5,000 inquirers who responded to the invitation, approximately 2,000 were from the Cricket Ground where the sermon was heard only through loud speakers.
Scores of extra policemen spent more than two hours in clearing what the newspapers described as the worst traffic jam on record.
THE RESPONSE TO THE INVITATION
The Sydney Crusade introduced an entirely new concept to the counselling [sic] methods of the Graham Team. A counselling [sic] room had always been used, and in Sydney a huge tent had been erected for that purpose. The tent was never large enough to accommodate the response to the invitation, and was removed after the first week
Instead of counselling [sic] the inquirers in a room, seated side by side, the Sydney counsellors [sic] learned to do the counselling [sic] standing in front of the platform -- in good weather and in the rains.
The total number of inquirers responding to the invitation, counselled [sic] and entered into the follow-up programme of the crusade reached 56,780 -— a daily average response of 2,186 for every service of the crusade!
Again, by comparison, this response in four weeks equalled the total response during the sixteen weeks of the New York Crusade!
Each day’s mail during the weeks following the crusade continues to bring word of additional decisions, so the final number will be increased within the next few weeks. There must also be included in addition the more than 5,000 inquirers who were counselled [sic] during the invitation at the relay services by counsellors [sic] trained through the Team’s counsellor [sic] training recordings.
Of particular significance is the fact that for the entire duration of the crusade, the percentage of inquirers who were, by their own declaration, making their decision to receive Jesus Christ as Saviour was approximately 76%. The per-capita response in relation to the attendance at the meetings was approximately four times that in the United States.
REACTION TO THE CRUSADE
Sydney area ministers were quick to express their overwhelmingly favorable reaction to the crusade. On every hand ministers were reporting increased church attendance . . . increased attendance at young people’s services . . . reawakened church members . . . new members coming into the church . . . increased Bible study and devotional life among their people . . . greatly increased zeal for further evangelistic work on the part of the local church.
Speaking for area ministers, church periodicals have commented editorially on the crusade.
In the AUSTRALIAN CHURCH RECORD, published at Diocesan Church House (Anglican), in Sydney, the feature editorial issued immediately after the crusade said.
“The first reaction to the conclusion of the Billy Graham Crusade should be one of thankfulness to God for His gift of these campaigns to the Australian Church, The Graham campaign has given Protestant Christians a great. rallying point ... has centred its message on Christ and Him crucified, and has called for a definite committal to Christ as Lord and Saviour. Nothing less than this will provide a centre for united action.
Whatever the critics of the Billy Graham crusade may say about its methods and its results (we don’t value their objections very highly) at least this cannot be denied -- that the indifference that so depressed and retarded the ministers’ work up to the present has for a few months at least been broken down. For this we should be duly grateful, and capitalise [sic] on the opportunity.”
The AUSTRALIAN BAPTIST commented editorially,
“The Programme of meetings of the Billy Graham Sydney Crusade has come to its conclusion. Questions are being asked by Christians in Sydney and elsewhere: What will happen now? Will the Churches be able to cope with the new situation? Are we just to fall back into the old ways, old ruts? Will the unity among the Churches and Christians which has grown up in the Crusade continue or will we slip back into old isolationism?
In many of the Churches the Crusade will not come to an end, Already, in most of the congregations of the participating denominations there are evidences that the new life will go on. We may expect that the Crusade will continue because of the precedent of what has occurred in other Crusades. We ought to assume that these hundreds, if not thousands of new members coming into our Churches will b bring such a fresh contribution of life, enthusiasm, talent, money and devotion that the whole character of the Church will be affected.”
Columnist Robert MacArthur writing in the N.S.W. PRESBYTERIAN comments:
“There is not a minister in the metropolitan area who is not being forced to share in the Graham Crusade no matter whether he is pro or con. Almost every time the postman blows a whistle over the letterbox a bundle of visits to enquirers or converts appears. I am certain that all these decisions for Christ are not groan made’. To believe that is, I believe, to claim too much for Graham and too little for God. What is the secret of this success in eliciting a response? The reason seems to lie in the fact that it is always Christ centred. Billy Graham’s preaching, despite all the defects he himself admits it to have, leads people to a decisive encounter. That cannot be discounted or denied.”
In THE METHODIST, this was the comment at the Crusade’s close:
“The public announcement is ‘The Billy Graham Crusade in our State has ended ‘ There is truth in all this, and what an experience it has been to share in the amazing month of ministry and mission amidst scenes unprecedented in the history of our country, and, according to the records broken at so many points, unprecedented in the history of the world. Has Pentecost been repeated in our time? Is this a Baptism of the Holy Spirit? In other words, Is the Crusade just beginning?
The point at which we stand today is much closer to the begin - fling of the Church’s task than it is to the fulfilment of that task. The task must be taken up by the Churches and carried forward in the power of the Spirit of God.
Every aspect of the life of the Church has been quickened by this Crusade, We are already receiving offers for missionary service from those whose lives God has changed. We pray that they may be sustained by the interest, prayers and support of the whole Church.”
STORIES FROM INDIVIDUALS
The stories of the changed lives of individuals continued to pour into the Crusade Office. One cane by letter from a Chinese business man who had received a cheque for £85/14/- from a former business associate who had borrowed, without returning, samples of linen worth £40/O/O in 1952. The man had received Christ at a Crusade meeting and returned the original value of £4O/O/O plus interest of £45/14/- computed at 10% compound interests The Chinese attended the Crusade and ultimately made the $45/O/O a contribution and has expressed a keen interest in the Gospel himself.
A Crusade Usher found a man standing next to him at one service. As the invitation was proceeding he turned to the usher to ask “Will Christ really forgive any sin?” The usher assured him of forgiveness through faith in Christ, and the man thrust a package at him and went forward. The usher found in the package a loaded revolver and a charge of explosive and detonators. Later the man, a former criminal, returned to the usher with his testimony of salvation. Within the week he had brought nine other men to the meetings -- all of whom accepted Christ as Saviour.
A happy grandfather told of his 7 year old grandson who went forward himself, and subsequently took 12 people to the Crusade, only two of whom were under 40 years of age, and 7 of whom responded to the invitation and made their decision for Christ.
Included in the stories are those of broken homes reunited - - some within sight of the platform . . . of businessmen who have already changed working conditions and rates of pay . . . of 350 university students . . . of doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists who found themselves coming forward for salvation.
CRUSADE ENTERS FOLLOW-UP STAGE
As a major step in the follow-up phase of the Crusade, an intensive programme of Visitation Evangelism is being instituted immediately. An estimated 6,00o workers will undergo a week long training seminar and in the following week (May 25 - 28) will engage in a city-wide effort at visitation evangelism under the leadership of individual churches and ministers. This is a follow-up not only on the results of the Crusade itself, hut also on the Census Visitation programme which preceded the Crusade.
FOOTNOTES TO CRUSADE
On Tuesday following the Crusade the Sydney Rotary Club asked fellow Rotarian, the Rt. Rev. R. C. Kerle, Chairman of the Crusade Executive Committee, to stand and accept on behalf of the Crusade the acclaim of the Rotary Club and the warm appreciation of the members for all that had been accomplished during the four weeks in Sydney.
Billy Graham was the guest of the Australian—American Association at a luncheon in his honour, and the Association president P. Keith Yorston called him a great American and a great Christian, and spoke of his work as something which has made a profound contribution toward welding together in a spirit of good—will the people of these two nations.
Sydney TV stations who had produced tele-recordings of the final meeting of the Crusade were being pressured by public demand to replay the programme two and three times.
A “Gospel train” bringing sonic 350 individuals from Melbourne to attend a weekend at the Sydney Crusade was followed on one week later by two “Gospel planes” as other friends of the Crusade chartered planes to travel to Sydney for the closing weekend.
FUTURE CRUSADES IN AUSTRALIA
Under the leadership of the Team’s Associate Evangelists, three additional crusades will conclude the present programme in Australia.
In Adelaide, the Rev. Joe Bunco will conduct a two week crusade from May 13 - 26, with Billy Graham speaking at the concluding meetings on May 24, 25 and 26.
The Rev. Grady Wilson will conduct an 8 day crusade in Perth from May 15 - 22, with Billy Graham speaking at the final meetings on May 21 and 22.
In Brisbane, the Rev. Leighton Ford will conduct a two week crusade from May 17 - 31, with Billy Graham speaking at the concluding meetings on May 29, 30 and 31.
Billy Graham will leave Australia on Sunday evening, May 31, travelling [sic] to Europe and Great Britain for conferences before returning to the United States about mid-June.