, February 2, 2006, (BULLETIN) By GENALYN D. KABILING - Visiting American evangelist Franklin Graham yesterday advised President Arroyo to keep a strong faith in God to help her survive the political turmoil besetting her administration. The President sought spiritual advice from Graham in a private meeting shortly before the National Leadership Breakfast Forum at the Manila Hotel.

Graham, who is in the country for a week-long prayer festival, said he and the President discussed the domestic political situation and "how politics needs to be changed."

He said the President also expounded on her programs to eliminate poverty, terrorism, and illnesses such as acquired immune deficiency syndrome or AIDS, and other social and economic problems.

Graham said that in the United States, politics has become "so vicious" that it requires immediate reforms.

"There are so many attacks in my country. Everybody wants to tear down and tear down and tear down," he said.

To reform the countryís rowdy politics, Graham suggested to President Arroyo and other government leaders to start the change by praying to the Lord and seeking his forgiveness.

"If you invite Christ to come to your heart, He will change your heart and the only way our heart could be truly changed is through faith in Godís son the Lord Jesus Christ," he said.

"Before you leave this breakfast just say God I have sinned, I want my heart changed, I want to be forgiven. If you do that, youíll have a lasting legacy," the evangelist said.

Graham, president of the Christian evangelical group Samaritanís Purse, also blessed the President and the Philippines before he ended his prayer.

"Madame President, God bless you. God bless your nation, this great country of the Philippines," he said.

Bishop Fred Magbanua of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) also prayed over the President and asked the Lord to give her wisdom in addressing the problems of the country.

"You have chosen her to be our leader, the duly constituted authority at this time in the history of our nation. We pray that You will surround her with Your love, that You will protect her life," Magbanua said.

"We pray that You will give her wisdom. We are facing many changes, many problems in the country today. And we ask, Lord, that You will help her to focus her mind on You and receive wisdom from You for the task that is before her," he said.

Magbanua also sought the Lordís protection for the nation from the "works of the enemy, the works of darkness, the works of those who seek to destroy our peace and our prosperity."

The President attended the evangelistic festival led by Graham a few days after the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) called on the government to pursue the truth behind the controversies hounding her presidency and her family.

The Arroyo government currently struggles with fresh coup rumors and renewed opposition demands for her resignation on charges of election fraud and corruption.

The President also faces anti-government rallies against the implementation of the 12 percent expanded value added tax on goods and services. President Arroyo has refused to step down and instead actively pushed for Charter change to achieve political and economic stability.

Graham will hold a prayer festival from February 2 to 5 at the Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park, Manila that aims to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to many Filipinos.

Graham, son of renowned evangelist Billy Graham, is also the chairman of the World Medical Mission, the medical arm of the Samaritanís Purse. He has been ordained as a Christian minister.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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