A red and white striped lighthouse is one of Peterhead’s most beautiful attractions—the easternmost lighthouse in Scotland meant for directing ships to harbour.
Its beacon draws people in, just as God has done the past five nights here in town.
“I always thought if you did right in this life, you’d be OK,” said Agnes Henderson, a white-haired woman with her right hand leaning on a cane.
It was Sunday, the fifth and final night of Will Graham’s North East Scotland Celebration of Hope in Peterhead, and Agnes’ daughter was in tears. Her mother had just walked to the front of a school auditorium where Will was preaching, joining several others in asking Jesus to be part of her life.
“That’s my mum!” Lorraine Duthie said, her face still a bit red from crying.
Lorraine and her husband, Michael, were already fired up about the Celebration and expecting great things. Now, after countless prayers for her mother to really understand what it means to be saved, Lorraine is witnessing great things firsthand.
“I’m just so proud of my mum,” she said on Sunday, her arm around her mother’s shoulders.
Agnes never stopped smiling.
Despite her difficulty walking, Agnes does everything for everyone. She babysits her grandchildren, helps around Lorraine’s restaurant and reaches out to senior citizens. She’s raised money for a hospital and makes sure the pastor next door has a proper meal on Sundays.
But after hearing Will Graham speak, she realized none of those things are enough to get to God.
“Religions all say the same thing,” Will said. They’re all about being a good person to get in good standing with God, he said—helping others, giving to charity, going to church. Those are good things, he continued, but “all that falls short.”
“This is why Christianity is different; because, in Christianity, God came to you.”
Heaven can’t be earned, he went on, which is why we need Jesus Christ, because only sinless Jesus provides the connection between imperfect people and a perfect God. Not only that, Will said, but living a life with Jesus means a changed life here and now.
“God can change anybody’s life,” Will told the crowd. “Maybe you just feel lost in life. Christ wants you to come to Him.”
Earlier in the night, former heroin addict and Australian TV star Mark Stevens shared his own powerful story of change. Between leading the crowd in worship songs, he told the audience how God transformed his life at 26 years old. He was stumbling around London streets drunk one night, trying to find a party he was supposed to be at.
“I was a sorry sight,” he said.
It was that night that an ex-girlfriend asked what he was doing with his life.
“I said, ‘I think I need God.’ Those words just leaped out of my mouth.” It was also that night that Mark felt the presence of God.
“He’d seen everything I’d done—good, bad and ugly, and He still loved me,” Mark realized. He asked God’s forgiveness, and “I’ve never ever been the same since.”
“No one is too far away for Him to reach,” Mark told the crowd.
Even people who didn’t think they were far from God to begin with were drawn to Him Sunday night.
Agnes was in the car park three hours before the event started to be sure she got a good seat, even though she didn’t originally plan to attend. She had a change of heart on the day.
“I thought, ‘It won’t do me any harm. I’ll go,’” she said in a thick Scottish accent.
It wasn’t much of a surprise to Lorraine who, just the day before, told some BGEA staff members in her restaurant—in the presence of her mother—that she was confident her mum would be at the Celebration. Not only that, but Lorraine was sure her mother would finally understand that salvation comes through Christ alone.
Agnes was one of the last people to get up from her seat on Sunday and make her way to the front, with Lorraine holding onto her arm. It was hard to take that first step, Agnes admitted, but once she was up there, she told her daughter, “It was easier than I ever thought.”
Several people stopped Agnes afterwards—some longtime friends, some strangers—hugging her and sharing how happy they were for the decision she’d just made. Lorraine may have been the happiest.
Before the Celebration began, so many in town like Lorraine talked about their hope for revival. Now that the event is over, local Christians pray the spirit of evangelism continues with people just like them expanding the reach of a life-giving Gospel. Will Graham also challenged new Christians to tell others what God has done in their lives and continue spreading Good News.
“Even though it may be my last night preaching, it’s really the beginning,” Will said. “It’s the beginning of what God continues to do here.”