Religion: The Jesus Woodstock

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"Something historic is happening here," flashed a sign on an office building in downtown Dallas. Historic, maybe. Big for sure. Across—and well beyond—the city last week, more than 75,000 gospel-preaching young people and adults were jammed into hotels, motels and private homes, camping out in warehouses, truck terminals, school gyms and even the county jail. They had come from every state and 60 countries for an International Student Congress on Evangelism called EXPLO '72.

Addressing the first evening rally in Dallas' Cotton Bowl, Billy Graham set the tone of the meeting for the cheering crowd: "We are here to say to the world that Christian youth are now on the march, and we're going to keep marching until millions of people are brought into the kingdom of God!"

EXPLO was the creation of Campus Crusade for Christ International, an evangelical organization headquartered in San Bernardino, Calif., and founded two decades ago by former Businessman Bill Bright, now 50, a United Presbyterian layman. Campus Crusade is no longer limited to U.S. campuses: some 500 of its 3,000 staffers are posted in 50 foreign countries, and it trains 100,000 laymen a year to promulgate Bright's copyrighted "Four Spiritual Laws" to unbelievers.

Bright's message: God loves man and has a plan for him, but man is sinful and can neither experience that love nor understand that plan unless he individually receives Jesus Christ as savior and lord. Essentially, the high schoolers, college students and adults who came to Dallas last week had come to learn just how to get that message across to everyone in the world by Bright's target date of 1980.

In the mornings the zealots attended training sessions in 65 locations around the Dallas-Fort Worth area. In the afternoons they participated in seminars or wandered among the booths that 206 evangelical groups had set up in the exhibition halls of State Fair Park surrounding the Cotton Bowl. Not all the groups who had booths were of the straight, nonpolitical type characteristic of Campus Crusade. One called the People's Christian Coalition was more radical in its approach to the Gospel, and caused a ruckus at a midweek meeting when some of its members joined with Mennonites to hold up a CHRIST OR COUNTRY banner and chant "Stop the war." They reflected a feeling among a minority of evangelicals at the conference that Bright's brand of Christianity is lacking in social concern.

Most of the time, though, euphoria seemed to prevail. One convert from the drug world, Alaskan Ken Davenport, 24, compared the Dallas scene with the rock riot at Altamont: "There you didn't know if somebody was going to knife you. Here it's full of love." In Dallas' nightclub district, barflies were amazed to find the young evangelists offering them Bright's mustard-yellow pamphlets. A policeman working amid the crowds at the Cotton Bowl said in bewilderment, "I must have gotten bumped 3,000 times, and every time the person said 'Pardon me.' "

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