On Feb. 24, five circles of metal foldout chairs decorated a church lawn as college students around Oahu gathered to pray for the Decision America Tour. Kealoha Braceros sat in one of them.
“I get really comfortable with my life sometimes, and I need events like this to shake things up,” the Leeward Community College student said.
Braceros, along with about 100 others, was part of a youth rally prior to Franklin Graham’s seventh Decision America stop, at the Hawaii State Capitol in Honolulu.
“I’m not very proactive,” he said about his involvement in politics, “but I want to be.”
He hopes Decision America will spark a desire for change in young people.
“We’re too passive,” he said. “ … We’re straying away from God’s intended plan for us.”
Nearby, 21-year-old Melody White finished praying with a group of friends. She hopes Decision America not only opens others’ eyes to the country’s needs, but that people will “want to do something about it.”
“America needs to change, and this is the generation to do it,” she said matter-of-factly.
By the time the rally began, around 2,100 people had spread across the Capitol lawn, many seeking shade under enormous banyan trees, colorful umbrellas and wide-brimmed hats.
It was more than 50 years ago that Leiana Robinson’s father attended a 1965 Billy Graham Crusade in Kauai, and now she found herself traveling from Ni’ihau, a couple of islands over, to hear Franklin speak.
“For him to come this far, it’s really encouraging,” she said. “We need this.”
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Later, participants joined hands not only to pray for America, but to repent of their sins.
“We’ve turned our back on You. Forgive us, Father,” Franklin prayed. He also encouraged people to vote for candidates who uphold Biblical values.
Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. flew in from Kauai. A few months earlier, he had helped organize a pastors meeting to help launch Decision America in Hawaii. As mayor, he said, he’s on the front lines in the political sphere.
“I believe that we continue to lead and inspire with spiritual guidance,” he said, speaking to the importance of prayer. “I think the message from Franklin Graham really gave us the hope that we need [for America]. … I think this will continue on and move people’s hearts.”
This year may be especially significant.
“I think more than any year, the outcome of this year’s election will determine the future of this country,” 27-year-old Kimiyo Brown said.
Brown attends the University of Hawaii, where she works with Campus Crusade for Christ. A lot of college students don’t vote, she said, but she’s out to change that: “I want to encourage them that they can make a difference. Their vote does matter.”
It’s not just youth who have been stirred to action. Joey and Pua Vaovasa said their church, Joyful Community Church in Waimanalo, helped people register to vote last year. This year, the church started praying more for America.
The Vaovasas were inspired by the Decision America turnout.
“I didn’t know this many people in Hawaii believed in Jesus,” said Joey, surveying the crowd.
When the rally ended, many people stuck around. Members of Leeward Community Church of Pearl City formed a circle, bowing their heads as one after another prayed for America to be one nation under God again.
“We can’t let people do it for us,” Luana Rittmeister prayed, each hand grasping someone else’s. “Show us what we need to do to honor You.”
The prayer of the Decision America team is that thousands will honor God by living in faithful obedience to Him. ©2016 BGEA
Tiffany Jothen is a writer for BGEA’s Search for Jesus Internet Evangelism Team.