At first glance, Amsterdam may seem like a strange place to train 10,000 evangelists. As one journalist here noted, so many of the liberal local policies are at odds with biblical teachings. Prostitution, soft drugs, and euthanasia are legal. The city prides itself as "the gay capital of Europe." The city's red-light district, where scantily clad women beckon from picture windows and marijuana smoke rolls out of coffeeshops, is one of its biggest tourist attractions. But the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, which organized the Amsterdam 2000 conference for preaching evangelists, thinks it's the perfect place for such a conference."Sin is universal," says Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham. "The problems [in Amsterdam] are in every country. It's in every city."Nevertheless, it was to the red-light district that several of the evangelists traveled yesterday when given the morning and afternoon off. ("We're just touring," a group of evangelists sporting Amsterdam 2000 nametags and backpacks eagerly assured Christianity Today.)Other evangelists spread throughout the city's parken and pleinen [parks and squares] to engage in evangelism in several different forms, though these were all individually initiated. Amsterdam 2000 actually encouraged the evangelists to rest."We realize fully that evangelism in this country is not a one-shot deal," says Arnold van Heusden, director of the Evangelical Alliance of the Netherlands. "It's for the long haul. And to go in and do something very quickly and superficially might actually damage things. We've noticed that before."That's not to say that anyone who goes with a warm heart into the streets and contacts other people isn't doing the right thing because naturally that ...

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October 2, 2000

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