I recently returned from preaching the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in 10 strategic California cities, calling on God’s people to fervently pray for their state and our troubled nation during our Decision America California Tour.
It was an incredible time! In 17 days, we covered nearly 900 miles from Escondido in the south to Redding in the north, with stops also in Pasadena, Oxnard, Bakersfield, Fresno, Modesto, Santa Clara, Berkeley and Chico.
In every city, thousands of people filled parks and outdoor venues in the evening to take up the challenge of interceding for the Golden State, where progressive state and city governments have openly targeted churches and Christians through restrictive legislation hostile to Biblical values.
In Berkeley, a center of radical leftism, I preached at beautiful César Chávez Park, named after one of California’s best known political activists. I preached on the value of a soul, and the Holy Spirit worked to save and redeem. There, by the San Francisco Bay, we prayed for Gov. Jerry Brown, state legislators, law enforcement and others who make the state run every day.
Members of the Bikers for Christ joined us several nights to pray for our meetings and to ask God to bring revival to California.
At the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds in Turlock, just outside of Modesto, we celebrated the God-given principles called the Modesto Manifesto that were outlined by my father and his evangelistic team way back in 1948. If Americans still lived with that kind of integrity, we would be a far better place.
I called our Tour “Piercing the Blue Wall,” referring to California’s intolerant, godless liberalism that has overtaken so many universities, school boards, courts and local governments. The result has been a state that leads the way for the secular-progressive movement. At its core, this is a radical, biased agenda against the Christian foundations that have long undergirded our nation.
On June 5, the day we concluded our Tour in Redding, voters were headed to the polls to cast votes in crucial statewide primary elections. I encouraged the more than 57,000 people who attended our rallies to study the issues and vote for those candidates who were most closely aligned with Biblical values.
Can you imagine the difference it would make if Christians were elected to city halls, legislatures and school boards, like Tammi Musemici of Las Vegas? What if California were to lead the way? Wouldn’t that be something?
That’s why I asked everyone to make prayer their first priority. It’s Almighty God alone who can change a person’s heart, and in whose hand lies all power and sovereignty over men, rulers and nations (Proverbs 21:1). Repentance has always been the key to personal renewal and national revival.
I thank God that as we traveled across the state, scores of men, women and children stood to confess Christ as their Lord and Savior. My hope is that they, in turn, will share their newfound faith in Jesus with families and neighbors. That’s the power of the Gospel!
In August, I am headed into another bastion of progressivism and liberalism—the beautiful but spiritually starved Pacific Northwest. Starting Aug. 1, I will begin a seven-city tour of Oregon and Washington—states that have directly targeted and fined Christian business owners like florist Barronelle Stutzman in Richland, Wash.; bakers Aaron and Melissa Klein in Portland, Ore.; and drugstore owner Kevin Stormans in Olympia, Wash., simply because of their Biblical convictions on same-sex marriage and abortion.
The Pacific Northwest is one of the least churched and least evangelized regions of the United States. Evangelicals are far outnumbered by people who say they are unaffiliated with any church. I can’t think of a better place to preach the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and to see souls won for Him.
For Christians who attend, I will encourage them to participate in civic affairs, to cast their votes in important midterm elections and to even consider running for local and state offices. Believers are salt and light, not to be stored or hidden in a corner, but to be openly active in the midst of a corrupt culture.
The prophet Jeremiah preached to Israelites who were enslaved 70 years in the alien, idol-filled land of Babylon. It was a terrible time in Israel’s history, but tucked into the Biblical narrative is a surprising verse: “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (Jeremiah 29:7).
Rather than let the people of Israel wallow in bitterness and anger against their captors, Jeremiah told them to pray for their rulers and to be constructive.
This is no time for Christians to isolate ourselves and withdraw from engagement with our culture. We are not of the world, as Jesus said (John 17:14), but we most certainly are in the world. We have the responsibility for our sake, and especially for the sake of our children and grandchildren, to do all we possibly can to influence our communities with righteous conduct.
John Wesley, the great English evangelist, preached that you should do all the good you can in all the places you can to all the people you can. That’s good advice for the believer today. Abraham Kuyper, a fervent Christian and former prime minister of the Netherlands, said, “There is not one square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!’” God owns it all, and Christians should work hard in every sector of life for His glory and the welfare of all people.
I don’t know what the next few years or decades will bring. Only God does. But I know He has given us a brief window of time to do all we can for the sake of righteousness. We can still call people to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We can still pray for revival.
There is still a chance for our nation to call on the Name of the Lord and turn back to Him.
That’s certainly my prayer, and the reason we at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association are always going to obey 2 Timothy 4:2, which says, “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season.”
Seek the well-being of your city, wherever you are. Pray for it. Get involved in every corner of public life you can for the sake of the Gospel. Live boldly for Christ, and trust Him completely. Work while it is still day (John 9:4), and let’s see what God will do.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version.