OBU Student Joins Graham Conference Overseas

Eric Costanzo believes he might be one of the youngest participants at Billy Graham's Amsterdam 2000 conference July 29- Aug. 6, but he says he's not intimidated by that fact, just excited.

Costanzo, Oklahoma Baptist University senior from Bixby, was selected earlier this year to attend the conference in the Netherlands.

Amsterdam 2000, an international conference hosted by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, was scheduled to be Graham's last international event and was to serve as a "passing of the torch" to the world's evangelists. But Graham will be unable to attend the conference due to health problems.

The conference is expected to be the largest-ever international gathering of evangelists and church leaders, with more than 10,000 participants from more than 185 countries and territories.

The conference is by invitation only and Costanzo was nominated by OBU professors to receive one of the 24-page applications for the conference and was then selected by BGEA officials to attend the conference. His church, First Baptist Church, Jenks, raised the money to send him.

Costanzo worked as backstage crew for the Billy Graham Crusade in Indianapolis in the summer of 1999.

"I don't even know how to characterize what I'm thinking right now," Costanzo said. "Being with Christians from so many other cultures and spending a week with Billy Graham on a more personal level will be amazing."

Amsterdam '86 drew participants from 173 nations, more countries than had ever been represented at a single conference in world history. Approximately 75 percent of those invited to Amsterdam 2000 will be from developing nations.

Featured speakers for the event include Bill Bright, president, Campus Crusade for Christ; George Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury; John Corts, president, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association; Franklin Graham, president, Samaritan's Purse, first vice chairman, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association; Billy Kim, pastor, Suwon Central Baptist Church, Suwon, Korea; Anne Graham Lotz, founder, AnGeL Ministries; J.I. Packer, author, professor, Regent College; Luis Palau, president, Luis Palau Evangelistic Association; Dennis Rainey, executive director, FamilyLife; and Ravi Zacharias, president, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.

More than 130 seminars and 200 workshops will be held to address the issues that affect evangelism in the 21st century. For each seminar there will be 17 regional sessions led by presenters who will not only translate and interpret for the participants, but who will have adapted each session to the culture of a specific region. At least two workshops for all 25 languages will be offered during each session.