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Billy Graham’s daughter helps Gainesville Care Center raise money

POSTED: March 11, 2008 5:00 a.m.
SCOTT ROGERS /The Times

Gigi Graham, right, speaks with Margaret Burks after signing a book for her Thursday evening prior to the Gainesville Care Center Banquet. Graham, who is the oldest daughter of the Rev. Billy Graham, was the evening's guest speaker.

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Supporters of the Gainesville Care Center’s ministry are sharing in a common burden and task, author and speaker Gigi Graham told a gathering of about 1,000 Thursday at the Georgia Mountains Center.

"God is looking for you to fulfill the plans and purposes of this community," Graham said.

Thursday’s banquet was a fundraiser for the Gainesville Care Center, a Christian-based anti-abortion ministry that provides counseling, clinical exams, education and adoption referrals.

Center officials say the service helped prevent 58 abortions in 2007 and 981 since it opened in 1987.

Graham, the eldest daughter of famed evangelist Billy Graham, offered a wide-reaching sermon after attendees heard the testimonials of two Care Center clients. One woman who had an abortion and sought counseling from the center many years later said a 10-week class she took there "helped me get over the hump."

"It was a cleansing feeling," the woman said. "You know you’ve been forgiven by God, and now you can actually forgive yourself."

One young woman testified to having an abortion, then going to the Gainesville Care Center after she became pregnant again. She had that child, and crossed the stage carrying her daughter, now nearly 2 years old, to a warm ovation.

"(The Center) helped me out with a lot of things," she said. "It helped me realize how to take care of my daughter and be there for my daughter."

Gainesville Care Center advisory board member Mike Martin read an e-mail from a former client who chose not to have an abortion after visiting the center.

"My son is now serving in the armed services," she wrote. "The Gainesville Care Center defended his life in the womb, and now he is defending our country."

Martin told the gathering that the center needs donations for more paid client assistants, more outdoor advertising and more radio spots.

"The Gainesville Care Center has story after story about saving lives, and it needs each of you to be generous givers," Martin said.

Graham said many misconceptions arose from her famous heritage.

"Just because I was born into a godly environment, it didn’t make me a Christian," she said. "Each of us has to accept Jesus Christ personally. The fruit of the spirit doesn’t dangle off me because I’m Billy Graham’s daughter."

Bearing one another’s burdens means being able to show vulnerability, Graham said. "In the Christian community, I think it’s sad that we all feel we have to wear masks."

God’s plans are fulfilled through missions like those at the Gainesville Care Center, Graham said.

"God has a plan and purpose for every single person ... especially at this center, offering hope for all the young women who come there," Graham said.



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