Billy Graham draws thousands during 4-day California event

Posted: Friday, October 19, 2001

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) -- The Rev. Billy Graham wrapped up his four-day Central Valley mission with a sermon on the terrorist attacks.

Graham addressed the audience of 41,000 at Bulldog Stadium last Sunday. He asked everyone in the crowd to rethink their lives and pray for President Bush as the nation enters a ''strange new war.''

Over four days, the event at California State University, Fresno, drew more than 200,000 people, organizers said.

Out of sensitivity to Muslims, Graham didn't use the word ''crusade'' which he usually uses to describe such meetings. The Crusades were military campaigns in the Middle Ages in which Christians attempted to seize Jerusalem -- and a large swath of the Middle East with it -- from the Muslims controlling it.

Instead, Graham used the word ''mission'' to describe the event. He plans another mission to Cincinnati in June.

Graham, 82, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, has curtailed public appearances. The Fresno event was one of just two he conducted this year.

It was his third visit to Fresno in his decades of evangelizing.

His principles have their roots in the San Joaquin Valley. In his Modesto Manifesto from 1948, Graham pledged to avoid financial and sexual improprieties in his organization and said he would work with local churches and never inflate attendance.



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