The Mission of Entire Finland
Billy Graham reached an audience of 183,000 people at the Helsinki Olympic Stadium in 1987. The six-day meeting serie gathered visitors from all over Finland.
This August, it will be thirty years since the world-famous evangelist Billy Graham visited Finland. Mission Helsinki was held at the Helsinki Olympic Stadium from 25 to 30 August 1987.
The Finns were interested in Billy Graham. During the week, a total of 183,000 visitors attended. A record participation was made on at the closing meeting on Sunday when Billy Graham drew 42,500 listeners.
Inviting Billy Graham to Finland was not an easy task. The initiator, Joint Evangelical Committee, prepared the event for several years.
Perhaps the most shun was caused by the way Mr. Graham invited his audience to the front after his speech when he led them in prayer to ask Jesus into their lives.
A surprising number of people stood up. During the six days more than 9,000 people walked up to the stage and prayed with Billy Graham; about one third of them were men.
Choir of 2,500 singers
The events began with music. Among domestic and foreign singers and musicians were Päivi Paunu, Rakel Lignell, Kari Kuuva, Mikko Kuustonen and Jukka Leppilampi. In addition, the events featured a large choir of 2,500 singers.
The members of the choir had been practicing in smaller local groups across the country. The choir was lead by Kari Tikka and Sakari Kokkonen and Cliff Barrows from Graham’s team.
Graham’s message touched
Billy Graham’s speeches were simple and clear proclamations of Jesus Christ, the savior of men. His speeches addressed the basic questions and problems of human life. (See and listen)
When Mr. Graham finally asked people to come forward to the platform, a number of trained counsellors were there to answer questions. Those who wanted to be contacted by their local church later on could leave their contact details.
Carefully prepared event
In spite of its metropolitan name, Mission Helsinki 1987 was the mission of Finland as a whole country. The audience came from all over the country. This is why the media took great interest in the events. Yleisradio, the Finnish Public Broadcasting Company, for example, broadcasted the final meeting at the Olympic Stadium.
Billy Graham always considered it important to work closely with the various parishes and churches in the countries where he ministered – also in Finland. The organizations behind the Mission Helsinki included the Lutheran and free parishes of the Helsinki metropolitan area and the largest church-based evangelistic organizations. The Metropolitan of the Orthodox Church, Johannes, and the Bishop of the Catholic Church of Finland, Paul Verschuren, also supported the mission.
The preparation and follow-up were the responsibility of the parishes. Nearly 300 mission groups were established in the local churches. That year, before the Helsinki Mission, Christian Life and Witness Courses, with 12,500 people attending, were organized in different parts of the country. As many as 3,695 of them served as follow-up assistants at the stadium during the mission events. Fort-nine courses were organized for volunteers. Three of the courses were in Swedish and one in English. Note: Never start a sentence with a number unless you write it out!!!!
Volunteers, 3889, in number participated in courses for group leaders. This course provided leaders for the new small groups formed in the churches after the mission.
Budget by donations
Mission Helsinki’s 4.9 million budget was largely financed by donations from private Christians. In addition, an offering was collected at the events at the Olympic Stadium to cover the costs.
The budget covered the PR, advertising, training, office and administrative expenses, as well as the rent and arrangements for the stadium.
Neither Billy Graham nor his representatives were paid from Finland. The surplus in the budget was spent on evangelistic work in developing countries.
Graham in Finland also 1954
Billy Graham visited Finland for the first time on June 17, 1954. At that time he preached at the Olympic Stadium for an audience of 28,000 people.