C1huck and Holli Coffin and their sons Cade and Brayden took their seats at the L.P. Frans Memorial Stadium in Hickory on the night of Oct. 10.
More than 9,000 people had gathered for the sixth stop of the Decision America Tar Heel State Tour in the little town in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Franklin preached about Manasseh, a wicked king of Israel, whose 55-year reign led the nation into idolatry and witchcraft.
“Manasseh was 12 years old when he became king,” Franklin said. “Everything he did seemed to shake his fist in God’s face.”
But God forgave Manasseh.
“The Bible says the Lord God is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness,” Franklin said. “Not only did God forgive Manasseh, He restored him. God will restore you tonight.”
Twelve-year-old Cade was fully engaged in the story of this king who took the throne when he was about his own age. He’d been thinking about making a decision for Christ, but when Franklin gave the invitation for anyone who wanted to receive Christ to stand, he was hesitant. He looked at his mom, who was sitting two seats over.
“Mom,” he whispered loudly. “Should I stand?”
Holli saw the expression on Cade’s face, and she wanted to say yes, but she knew this had to be his decision.
“Son, that’s up to you,” she said.
Chuck moved into the chair beside his oldest son.
“Dad, I feel like I need to stand, but I’m scared,” Cade said.
“You have nothing to be afraid of,” Chuck said. “This is between you and God and nobody else in the stadium. And I am right here with you, as is God, so if you feel you need to stand, I’m right here to embrace you and to get you through it.”
Cade heard Franklin say, “You may never have another chance,” and he rose to his feet, his dad at his side.
“Dear God, I’m a sinner,” he began, repeating after Franklin. When the prayer ended, he turned into his father’s arms and a long, tearful embrace followed.
“I think I just felt God talking to me,” Cade said later. “I feel like it was a good time to give everything to Him.”
The Hickory Tour event had been on the Coffin’s calendar for months. Chuck had made it back from a business trip about 3 p.m., and he called Holli from the airport to tell her he was going straight to the stadium to get in line.
“We had talked about how cool it would be if this were the night our kids decided to accept Christ,” Holli said. “But we had not mentioned that to either one of them. We knew God would let them know when it was the right time.”
Photo: Thomas J. Petrino/2019 BGEA