‘A new beginning’

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    Will Graham waits to speak at the Kauai Celebration with Will Graham Friday night at Vidinha Stadium.

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    The crowd responds to the music at the Kauai Celebration with Will Graham Friday night at Vidinha Stadium.

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    The crowd responds to the music at the Kauai Celebration with Will Graham Friday night at Vidinha Stadium.

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    Franklin Graham address the crowd at the Kauai Celebration with Will Graham Friday night at Vidinha Stadium.

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    The crowd responds to the music at the Kauai Celebration with Will Graham Friday night at Vidinha Stadium.

LIHUE — When Will Graham finally took the stage on opening night of the “Kauai Celebration with Will Graham,” the crowd of nearly 2,000 fell silent. They wanted to hear each word spoken by this man, the grandson of famous evangelist, the late Billy Graham.

So his first words on a cool, sometimes rainy Friday night caught Vidinha Stadium by surprise.

“I’m not going to preach,” he said, then adding, “I want to introduce you to the person who is going to be speaking.”

That person, he said, had many titles: author, evangelist, CEO, president, beloved son, faithful husband, father and grandfather.

“Tonight, I want you to listen to this speaker, because this man led me to the Lord Jesus Christ on Jan. 11, 1981, and my life has never been the same since this person pointed me to Jesus Christ,” he said.

Graham looked at the crowd of keiki to kupuna, some sitting on the grass field, some in the stadium seats, and told them “tonight is divine appointment for each and every one of you.

“I want you to listen intently to this message and be ready to make a decision, the most important decision of your life,” he said.

It was then Franklin Graham walked across the stage and hugged his oldest son. It was a historic moment, as it marked the first time that Will Graham and Franklin Graham have preached from the same stage at a Will Graham Celebration.

The Kauai Celebration also marked one of the rare times that all three generations of Grahams — Billy, Franklin and Will — have spoken in the same city. Billy Graham preached in Lihue in 1965 after a weeklong outreach in Honolulu.

The Kauai Celebration with Will Graham has been in the planning stages since last year. Hundreds of volunteers from 64 area churches representing 14 denominations teamed up on the outreach. It started Friday, continued Saturday and wraps up today. It features free concerts from Christian artists and inspiring messages.

“Good evening,” Franklin Graham said as the crowd cheered and shouted, “Aloha.”

“Aloha,” he answered.

Graham visited Kauai last year, shortly after the mid-April flooding that devastated areas of the island. He was in Alaska when he heard about the disaster, so he stopped to see how he and his team could assist with recovery.

He recalled wearing blue jeans and a long-sleeve shirt when he arrived.

“I didn’t know I was going to have to go out and get in a boat and wade out into the water,” he said, as the crowd laughed.

Franklin Graham is president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse, both of which have been active on the island since the floods.

Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian disaster relief organization, assisted 164 homeowners through a combination of tarping, mudouts, tree removal and repair work, while 10 crisis-trained chaplains with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team prayed with and comforted more than 1,160 people on the island.

Franklin Graham recently returned from Cucuta (on the Colombia-Venezuela border), where he proclaimed the Gospel to 94,500 people during a two-day event on Easter weekend.

Friday night, in a 30-minute talk, Franklin Graham spoke of faith and forgiveness. “If you don’t remember anything else, remember this — God loves you,” he said.

“Tonight you can have a new life and a new beginning, but you’re going to have to choose,” he said.

About 100 responded when he called people to the front of the stage to accept Christ.

“You are now a child of God,” he said. “Remember I told you God loves you? He surely does.”

Former mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. was among several local speakers who took the stage early in the evening. He told of being asked if he was “born again,” and later trying to decide what exactly that meant.

The search eventually led him to profess his Christian faith.

“I knocked on the door and the door opened,” he said.

The Kauai Celebration wraps up with a final program at 3:30 p.m. today at Vidinha Stadium.


Bill Buley, editor-in-chief, can be reached at 245-0457 or bbuley@thegardenisland.com.

  1. Steve May 5, 2019 7:26 am Reply

    Franklin Graham is a racist, He stepped away from his fathers openness and embraced the political far right and white supremacy. Why does this paper support anti-semitism and bigotry?

  2. kauaiboy May 5, 2019 8:07 am Reply

    Religion is the opiate of the masses, and the cause of more war and strife in this world than any other believe in history. “Faith” in one God, and one God only, is mind-boggling. Worship”? Don’t get me going on worshipping anything at all. It is a stupid and lazy exercise.

    Franklin Graham has referred to Islam as “a very evil and wicked religion.” I do not defend Islam, but the same could be said for Christianity if you look at the history of both religions.

    Graham has commented on Hinduism as well, saying, “no elephant with 100 arms can do anything for me. None of their 9,000 gods is going to lead me to salvation”.

    No belief other than a Christian one will ever satisfy zealots like Graham. Forget Mother Nature, or Native American traditions, or anything else that does not fill the coffers of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

    Graham is a supporter of conversion therapy (the pseudoscientific practice of trying to change an individual’s sexual orientation from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual using psychological or spiritual interventions), and has advocated against laws that would ban it on minors within the United States. Mahus, beware!

    Graham supported North Carolina Amendment 1, which was passed by a voter referendum on May 8, 2012, prohibiting same-sex marriage and all domestic partnerships.

    In November 2016, Graham told The Washington Post that God had played a role in Donald Trump’s election as U.S. president, saying: “I could sense going across the country that God was going to do something this year. And I believe that at this election, God showed up.”

    Franklin Graham a disgrace for normalizing Donald Trump’s behavior. Graham is a hypocritical bigot who has rationalized Trump’s infidelity and racism, ignored his lies, cheered his inhumane immigration policy and behaved as a political hack rather than a religious leader.

    The 2000 people who cheered when Franklin Graham showed up should consider who they are supporting, how he thinks, and, indeed, how they are thinking.

    This whole thing is sick, and sad. In the word of John Lennon:

    Imagine there’s no heaven
    It’s easy if you try
    No hell below us
    Above us only sky
    Imagine all the people living for today
    Imagine there’s no countries
    It isn’t hard to do
    Nothing to kill or die for
    And no religion too
    Imagine all the people living life in peace, you
    You may say I’m a dreamer
    But I’m not the only one
    I hope some day you’ll join us
    And the world will be as one
    Imagine no possessions
    I wonder if you can
    No need for greed or hunger
    A brotherhood of man
    Imagine all the people sharing all the world, you
    You may say I’m a dreamer
    But I’m not the only one
    I hope some day you’ll join us
    And the world will be as one

    1. Dnakauai May 5, 2019 8:01 pm Reply

      Awesome post!! You pretty much nailed it!! It’s scary that people could still follow this “organized religion” after all the separation & hate it perpetuates beneath it’s thin surface of faith. I’m sure this graham guy is smiling all the way to the bank after flying away from Kauai on his private jet.. it’s sad that people still fall for this crap in this day & age.

  3. Bcarefulkauai May 5, 2019 9:39 am Reply

    Wow! A group of brainwashed humans listening some haole guys? Last time I checked, haole’s were not approved for respect in Hawaii. I guess they need to be cult leaders. Very strange. My advice, do not leave your children alone with these men and do not give them money for their next private jet plane.

  4. Ron May 5, 2019 9:52 am Reply

    Enough of this religious clap trap.

  5. paulot May 5, 2019 10:48 am Reply

    It seems The Garden Island newspaper should consider changing it’s name to The Christian News Dispatch.

  6. harryoyama May 5, 2019 11:29 am Reply

    Brain washed fools believing in religious non-sense on some make believe “god” that never existed but in the minds of delusional idiots who are too lazy to formulate scientific facts from pure fiction. Religion is just another way to control and manipulate people who are too stupid to realize that they have the potential to do things beyond their wildest dreams through science and not religions.

  7. Major Lee Hung May 5, 2019 2:04 pm Reply


  8. Bluepacifica May 5, 2019 2:06 pm Reply

    I did a double take when I saw this picture. It really looks like a few nazi salutes in the crowd. Yikes!!

  9. steve May 5, 2019 2:19 pm Reply

    Franklin Graham does good works, no doubt. But he also believes God has sent us Donald Trump, apparently to show us how a country can live up to Christian values. I’ve been trying to find which scripture condones devil’s bargains, without success. So I ask Mr Graham, who by the way criticized Barack Obama’s Christianity, and praises Vladimir Putin: what price are you willing to pay to overturn Roe v Wade and make sure trans people use the right bathrooms? Because I’m pretty sure Donald Trump, paragon of moral rectitude, champion of the rights of the unborn and white people, serial philanderer, liar, racist, swindler, scofflaw, tax cheat–and trampler on the Constitution, cares a lot less about the sermons you deliver than the votes you deliver.

  10. Islandboyee May 5, 2019 6:28 pm Reply

    Aiya, so much negative comments, signs of the times for sure!!!

  11. kauaiboy May 6, 2019 6:52 am Reply

    Hey Bill, are you listening? The comments say it all. Mo’ bettah to take this paper in a secular direction. Knock off the WORSHIP of any God and focus on humanity. We will all be better off in the long term.

  12. Mary May 7, 2019 3:38 pm Reply

    Agree with all the posts. Instead of calling this article a new beginning, it should of been called “Snake oil salesman Graham showed up with a bag of lies and sold it good to 2000 gullible Kauai folks, filling his greedy little pockets, good profit for day’s work”. Hypocrate, liar misogynist while excuse for a human being, newspaper do not promote his garbage.

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