The crisp air reminded preacher Will Graham of home and the warm welcome gave him hope for a renewed interest in Christianity.
The North Carolina-based evangelist spoke to hundreds of Orange residents at events on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Invited by the churches of Orange to bring his message about God to the city, Mr Graham knew he faced a more challenging audience in Australia than at home in the United States.
“It’s definitely a lot different to the US. If we came to a city this size in the US we’d probably find 100 churches,” he said.
“My perception is that many Aussies wouldn’t consider themselves religious people, but a lot of them believe in God. They just throw him on the back shelf and don’t think about him a lot. Those are the people I want to challenge to think about it, how they’re going to stand before God one day.”
About 700 people attended a special youth event at Orange Function Centre on Friday night, with a similar number at a general event on Saturday.
Last night’s event featured live music from Jane Saunders and Compliments of Gus, as well as an address by Orange’s MasterChef winner Kate Bracks.
Mr Graham said he couldn’t take all the credit for the large crowds.
“The response has been great. The churches have worked so hard. We’ve had a great response from youth. God’s got to be the one who calls people forward. That’s got to be left up to him. We’ve just got to do the best we can to fill the place,” he said.
Mr Graham is the grandson of famous US preacher Billy Graham.
The father of three will continue on to spread the word in Bathurst and Lithgow before returning home to his family in the US.