Des Moines, Iowa
Christians showed up in a big way Jan. 5 in Des Moines, the first stop on Franklin Graham’s 50-state Decision America Tour.
They came from across the state of Iowa. They came from as far away as Missouri and Tennessee. They came, more than 2,500 strong, on a frigid, gusty day to stand and pray with Franklin Graham on the West Terrace of Iowa’s Capitol.
As Patty Nelson, of Garden City, waited for the event to begin, she summarized her hope for the nation as Franklin’s Tour progresses: “I’m hoping people listen and vote biblically. You know, be a Biblican, not a Republican or a Democrat.”
Franklin spoke to the crowd with a somber humility and a resolute determination as he described the nation’s moral collapse and what believers must do. He pointed to the example of Nehemiah who, as he grieved over the broken walls and gates of Jerusalem, confessed the sins of his nation, himself and his fathers. In like fashion, Franklin called the crowd to intercede for America. Earnest prayers rose from around the terrace:
“Forgive our nation, Lord.” “Cleanse our nation, Jesus.” “Forgive our covetousness.”
Franklin followed by praying: “Father, we confess the sins of this country. We have sinned greatly against You. And Father, our nation needs to be healed. Our hearts need to be healed. We need to turn our face back to You and to Your Son, Jesus Christ.”
Then Franklin asked the people to silently confess their own sins and those of their ancestors. For any in the crowd who were not sure where they stood with God, he explained the Gospel and led them in a prayer of salvation.
Finally he outlined a plan of action. He asked those in attendance to go home and form groups to pray for the nation, the state and for local communities. He urged them to vote for candidates who stand for biblical values and are willing to live by them. And he challenged them to be willing to run for local, state or federal office, which could trigger an influx of godly leadership in elected positions around the nation.
“Our country is in trouble,” Franklin said. “But we’ve got a great God. We’ve got an awesome God. He can rebuild those walls. He can re-hang those gates. … Go back to your community. Advocate for God’s truth and His righteousness. Elect men and women to office who will really lead this nation back to being one nation under God that can truthfully say once again ‘In God we trust.’”
Many in the crowd were encouraged by Franklin’s leadership. Joan Acela, of Winterset, heartily agreed with Franklin’s message and added, “I’ve been a teacher for 34 years and a county supervisor—because Christians need to run for office, just like he said.”
An Iowa state representative told Decision: “I am very thankful that Franklin has taken this on. My prayer is that the church and Christians across the nation will rise up and be at the state houses to proclaim the truth alongside Franklin and will be in prayer for our country as we walk into the November election.”
Under a bright sun and clear sky on Jan. 12, an estimated 3,500 people gathered on the lawn of the historic Old Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla., to hear a message from Franklin calling them to humble prayer for the nation, repentance of sin and civic engagement.
As music played through the loudspeakers before the event, some held signs bearing Scripture or waved American flags. Most stood in small groups of three or four. Some came by themselves and stood next to strangers.
All seemed ready to join their hearts with other believers on behalf of a drifting church and a troubled nation.
Some like Ira Green, who traveled 275 miles from Lakeland, Fla., with his wife, said the Viet Cong soldiers he faced as a young Marine in 1965 “meant business,” and Christians must mean business with the enemy they face. “God’s grace is sufficient and we’ve got to do it,” Green said. “It’s up to us Christians. God’s not through with this country yet.”
A woman named Kristy took her 10-year-old son out of his public school for the day to be there because, she said, “We are born-again Christians and we wanted to support what Franklin is calling us to do. If God’s not first in our lives and our nation, then we have no hope.”
Ken Winsey came with his adult son, Chris, because he wanted to support Franklin’s message that a move of God in the nation is the only hope for change. Winsey said he has been praying for the Decision American Tour for many months.
“It certainly puts me on my knees when I see the moral decline we are seeing. It’s heartbreaking.”
Franklin made clear that on bended knee is the place to begin addressing the spiritual, moral, economic and racial chaos in America. No political party can fix it.
“My only hope is in Almighty God,” Franklin told the crowd. “That’s our hope, and the most important thing we can do as Christians is to pray—pray to God.”
Franklin then related the biblical story of Nehemiah leading Israel to rebuild the walls of the city—in 52 days.
“After arriving in Jerusalem, in 52 days he rebuilt those walls—not 52 years, not 52 months, not in 52 weeks but in 52 days! And there was great opposition.”
Our walls have failed to restrain the enemy, Franklin said, and like Nehemiah, America’s Christians must pray and fast for God’s intervention.
Several times during his message, Franklin paused and led the crowd in prayers of repentance, leaving time for silent prayer and prayers in groups of two or three.
“Father, our nation has sinned greatly,” Franklin prayed. “You have given more to this nation than any nation in the history of mankind, and we’ve turned our backs on you. We have sinned greatly. Forgive us of our sins as a nation, Father.”
He also urged Christians to engage in the civic process as informed voters and to offer themselves for public office. Danny Henderson, pastor of Harvest Fellowship Church in Jasper, Fla., agreed.
“We need to step out of the shadows in this country and pray for proper leadership and be involved in the direction of our nation. Let’s take a greater role as born-again Christians.”
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
J.B. Eid of Metairie, La., believes Americans have forgotten what’s important. That’s why he took his 10-year-old son, Logan, out of school on Jan. 13 and instead drove up to Baton Rouge from suburban New Orleans for the Decision America Tour.
The father and son were there early on the Town Square in Baton Rouge, seizing a prime spot to hear Franklin Graham call Louisianans to live boldly for Christ.
Franklin’s message about America’s spiritual crisis has resonated with Eid, and he wants to help the next generation stand for Christ despite a rotting culture.
“Just the other day I took my boys to see the new Star Wars movie, and unfortunately the previews featured a show that promoted homosexuality,” Eid said. “These values are sporadically put out there for my children. I want them to know that I am standing for things that are right based on biblical principles.”
Eid teaches a boys second-grade Sunday school class and Logan helps out.
“I’m praying for each of these boys to know Jesus, to come close to Him in such a way that they can become leaders in this country.”
Such ambitions meshed with Franklin’s message delivered to an estimated 4,200 people who crowded the downtown venue a few blocks from the state Capitol.
After preaching on the biblical story of Nehemiah and the rebuilding of the wall in Jerusalem, and leading in prayers of repentance and intercession, Franklin put the burden of Christian citizenship squarely on the shoulders of the crowd.
“You know, growing up we were afraid of the Red Threat. The communists were coming,” Franklin explained.
“Well, we won and we began to relax,” he said. Consequently, “secularism crept into our society.” Like communism, secularism is a godless philosophy and has become the most visible threat to Christian faith and religious liberty in America, he said.
“The secularists,” Franklin said, “are led by people that have very appealing names like ‘progressives.’” Yet, “they are the people who are most likely to oppose the standards of God and His laws and His righteousness.”
Just as Billy Graham urged Christians to “offer themselves for public office” in an earlier era, believers today must be informed, vote and also identify qualified Christian men and women to seek office at every level.
“Daniel lived in one of the most heathen countries of the world, we read in the Scriptures, but he was prime minister under seven kings and two empires. We need more Daniels today.”
Margie Boustany of Lafayette, La., who arrived early with a small group of other women, said a recent Bible study covering the Book of Revelation has brought her a sense of urgency in the hour.
“The Lord has just put it on my heart to be very bold and take a stand. Our nation needs to be aware of what is happening. We have to be informed.”