Taking the Gospel to the Southern Border

Stories from the Franklin Graham God Loves You Frontera Tour

Taking the Gospel to the Southern Border

Stories from the Franklin Graham God Loves You Frontera Tour

After the 2023 Festival in Mexico City, God put it on Franklin Graham’s heart to go to the southern border of the United States and preach the Gospel. God prepared the soil, and in February and March of this year, Franklin preached to over 58,000 people in 10 cities along the border. Following are stories of how God worked in each town.

Brownsville, Texas

A prayer team member assists a woman at the Frontera Tour stop in Brownsville, Texas. Photo: Shealah Craighead / ©2024 BGEA

Leading up to the God Loves You Frontera Tour, believers in each of the cities prayed fervently for months that the Word of God would take root in the hearts of those who came. Church members invited their friends, families, even strangers and cashiers at the local grocery store, to come and hear the Good News of Jesus Christ.

“The spirit of revival, I think, is going to be here tonight, and then all the way along the border,” Matt, a member of the National Guard, said during the Tour stop in Brownsville, Texas, a few miles west of the Gulf Coast along the Rio Grande.

His wife, Pam, added: “The people you reach here are going to tell family members in other places. So you plant the seed here, and it sprouts and blesses other places. And I think that’s so exciting!”

The Tour kicked off Feb. 24 in the grass field of Brownsville Sports Park with 3,800 people in attendance. About 450 believers were trained to serve as prayer team members during the invitation.

Marcos Witt led worship in all 10 cities of the Tour. Photo: Logan Ryan / ©2024 BGEA

One of those prayer team members was Carlos,* who was full of excitement. “I walked around, wherever the Spirit led,” he said. “I didn’t even approach anyone—this guy ran up to me.” The man who approached him asked him for BGEA’s Living in Christ booklet. When Carlos asked the man if he had accepted Jesus, the man said that he had been saved a long time ago after living as a drug addict and dealer. But recently, he had fallen back into his addiction—and he wanted to rededicate his life to Jesus Christ. “The Lord works in mysterious ways,” Carlos said. “I used to be a drug dealer. God put us together.” The man asked for a Bible for his son. “I pray that generations to come will be saved and transformed,” Carlos said.

Another prayer team member prayed with a man who came forward to receive Christ as his Savior. The man’s wife, who was already saved, had brought him that night. The prayer team member had a similar story—his wife was a believer, and he was not, until Jesus saved him. “It changed my life, my family, everything else, and he’s going to have the same experience.”

“I see Brownsville being changed today,” he added.

*Name changed to protect privacy.

McAllen, Texas

Franklin delivers the message as David Ruiz interprets in McAllen, Texas. Photo: Logan Ryan / ©2024 BGEA

The Tour’s second stop was just 60 miles west, in McAllen, where more than 600 volunteers had been praying and spreading the word. 

Franklin’s message at Payne Arena on Feb. 25 challenged the people with the words of Jesus: “Remember Lot’s wife.” Lot’s wife represents unbelief, Franklin said. “God was giving her a chance, but she disobeyed. God is giving you a chance here, tonight. You can obey by coming to Christ tonight, or you can reject Christ. It’s your choice; it’s your decision. It’s either Heaven or hell. Will you choose Christ tonight?”

Among the hundreds who responded was a man in his early 20s who prayed to receive Christ. He said, “Back when I was young, I knew about God; people told me about God, but I didn’t know what I was doing. I wasn’t sure. But today, I’m sure of what I’m doing.”

Not far away, as Marcos Witt and his band came back out to play, a young family from across the border in Reynosa, Mexico, celebrated. David, the father, was rejoicing because he and his wife had just rededicated their lives to Christ, and their son and daughter had both received Christ. “There’s no price that you can pay for that,” David said, “because you know they are going to be in Heaven one day. I have no words! I’m so happy. I’m glad that we made it here.”

Another woman who came forward explained, “I feel God has touched me very deeply. I felt His presence, and I’ve rededicated my life to the Lord.”

After the meeting ended, Pastor Randy Smith, from El Paso, left the arena and headed to the parking lot. He was using vacation time to volunteer at the first seven Tour stops, serving until the Tour reached his home city. “I couldn’t think of a better vacation,” he said.

On the way to his car, Smith noticed a man on his knees in the parking lot. He asked if the man was OK.

The man explained that he had gone forward to receive Christ, and when he got to his car, he was overcome with gratitude. He knelt down to praise God. “It’s so good; it’s so good,” he said. “It’s better than I ever could have imagined.”

Laredo, Texas

Dennis Agajanian plays for the crowd at the Frontera Tour stop in Laredo, Texas. Photo: Logan Ryan / ©2024 BGEA

For a year leading up to the Tour, a women’s prayer group in Laredo, Texas, had prayed and periodically fasted for revival in their city. Norma, the group’s leader, said that the group started with six women and had grown to over 20. Their excitement and love for Jesus was palpable as many of them served as prayer team members for the third Tour stop on Feb. 27. They distributed hundreds of invitations all around Laredo and saw all of this as an answer to their prayer for revival. 

Lucia, one of the prayer group members, described through tears how God saved her as a young woman, when she was living in sin and tempted to kill herself. She had heard the Gospel but felt like she couldn’t surrender to Christ—until a pastor came to her home and shared the love of Jesus with her. He said to her, “The enemy wants to steal your soul—so what are you waiting for?”

As soon as the pastor left, Lucia fell to her knees and prayed, “God, I’m not going to fight with You anymore. I can’t. … You’ve got my heart. I’m just going to give my life to You totally and serve You.”

She shared that she wanted to be an example, especially to the people coming to the event. “They’re going to come and listen to Franklin Graham,” Lucia said, “so I just pray. I want to be a light for others.”

Taya led worship at all 10 Tour stops. Photo: Logan Ryan / ©2024 BGEA

More than 800 people came forward in response to the Gospel, including over 450 who made professions of faith in Christ.

One woman invited seven people to the event, and four of them—two of her brothers and their wives—received Christ that night. “I’ve prayed for them for many years,” she said. “My mom used to pray for them. She died, but I’ve continued to pray for them, and this is the result.” She said the first thought in her mind the morning after the event was, “God hears our prayers; God answers prayer.”

Claudia, a prayer team member, was overjoyed that her three sons each came forward and received Christ. “It feels very rejuvenating,” the oldest son said, “almost like taking a drink of water after being out in the desert for a long time.”

Eagle Pass, Texas

Women worship in Eagle Pass, Texas. Photo: Ron Nickel / ©2024 BGEA

Eagle Pass, Texas, one of the busiest crossing points between Mexico and the United States, has been a hotspot during the immigration crisis, with the state and federal governments feuding over the best way to handle a surge of migrants that has strained the small city’s resources. 

During a January Night of Prayer & Worship in preparation for the God Loves You Tour, one man prayed, “Lord, the world knows Eagle Pass because of the border. Please Lord, let the world know this town stands for Jesus.”

And so—less than three miles from the port of entry that has drawn lawmakers and politicians, as well as Border Patrol agents, local law enforcement and National Guard troops—the Tour made its fourth stop Feb. 28 at the Maverick County Amphitheater.

Because of the limited space at the front of the amphitheater, most of the people who responded to the invitation stood in place instead of walking forward. With the aisles packed, some prayer team members made their way to them by stepping across the venue’s bench seats. 

A woman named Griselda committed her life to Christ. She explained that she had been baptized years ago but had not continued to follow the Lord. Then, two months prior to the Tour, one of her cousins died of cancer. “That is what led me to this decision,” she said. “I want to keep on following Jesus.”

 A man in his early 30s wept freely after he put his faith in Christ. “Thank you, thank you, thank you,” was all he could say to a prayer team volunteer.

Del Rio, Texas

Franklin talks to law enforcement officers at the Tour stop in Del Rio, Texas. Photo: Logan Ryan / ©2024 BGEA

About 60 miles northwest of Eagle Pass sits the border town of Del Rio, Texas, where Kevin and Juan were excited to serve on the prayer team for the Tour stop on Leap Day, Feb. 29. 

“We just knew that this was going to be big for revival in our city,” Kevin, a high school senior, said. “We feel like something is going to happen, like, a lot of people are going to give their lives to Jesus. And I want to be here for it.”

Juan shared about some of the issues people face in Del Rio and Ciudad Acuña, right across the border: depression, anxiety and drugs pouring into both cities. “We’re hoping that a revival can change that,” he said. “We’re really hoping that they realize Christ is the answer, not drugs, not money, not the world, not what this life has to offer us. Christ is the answer.”

Franklin spoke of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11–24—a young man who ran from his problems and was not satisfied until he returned to his father. “There are some of you here tonight, you’re running,” he said. “And tonight, you will meet Jesus Christ.”

Kevin prayed with two people who made professions of faith. “I was able to see people from my school who gave their lives to Christ,” he told Decision, “and it encouraged me because it showed me more can do the same if we continue to try and reach out to them!”

Another prayer team member prayed with a woman and her daughter whose family member was murdered only a few weeks prior to the event. They both came to faith in Jesus.

“Tonight, they came here probably looking for peace and healing,” the prayer team member said. “In the midst of their pain, they knew it was a good time to come.” 

A woman named Susan said, her voice cracking with emotion, “I guess I can feel what it was like for my parents when we’d all go to church together.” She came with her three daughters, ages 11, 17 and 24, who all made professions of faith in Christ. Susan had come to Christ when she was a teenager, but she joyfully rededicated her life to Him at the Tour event.

“I know we are united as a family,” she said.

Presidio, Texas

A prayer team member prays with a man at the Tour stop in Presidio, Texas. Photo: Ron Nickel / ©2024 BGEA

When Danny and Ida Domenguez began attending First Baptist Church of Marfa, Texas, regularly in late 2022, the congregation of five people was about to stop meeting. A little more than a year later, the church rented a charter bus for around 30 of its members to attend the Frontera Tour March 2, about an hour away in the town of Presidio.

“God has already been working in our church and our community,” Ida said. “We’re now at 35 people, and that’s pretty big for Marfa.” Ida, who grew up in Presidio, said that praying and planning for the Tour for months rallied churchgoers to seek God’s will more fervently for their church and community. “We were determined to pray and pray, and we got a pastor,” she said. “God is doing something. I know He is working.” 

Danny has been sheriff of Presidio County for 28 years. His entire staff, including two deputies who had recently professed their faith in Christ, provided security for the event held at the town’s former high school football stadium. “Being a leader in this community and this happening here, it just overwhelms me [with joy],” he said. 

The tiny border town along the Rio Grande near Big Bend National Park—with a population barely over 3,000 residents—hosted a crowd of some 1,200 for the unprecedented gathering to hear Franklin Graham preach from Luke 19 about Jesus’ encounter with Zacchaeus as He passed through Jericho. “Jesus saw him, and He sees you,” Franklin told those in attendance. “He saw Zacchaeus on the way to the cross.”

Jesus Jose Barrintos Rey, 36, crossed the border from the neighboring town of Ojinaga, Mexico, to hear Franklin’s message. With all the things going on in the world, I have been searching and searching, and when I saw this, I knew that I needed to come here,” he said through an interpreter. With tears of joy filling his eyes, Rey said he looked forward to telling his parents about the decision he made to profess his faith in Jesus as his Savior and Lord. 

Ida said that she and her husband and fellow church members in the county seat town of Marfa will continue praying that revival will spread from the nearly 140 decisions for Christ at the God Loves You Tour stop in her hometown.

“We need a spiritual awakening right now in Presidio County,” Ida said. “We have been praying for this for the longest time.”

El Paso, Texas

A man lifts his hands in praise at the Tour stop in El Paso, Texas. Photo: Thomas J. Petrino / ©2024 BGEA

By the seventh stop of the God Loves You Frontera Tour, Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (BG-RRT) chaplains Tim and Yvonne Denmark were showing no signs of tiring along the 10-city tour that had begun just over a week earlier in Brownsville, Texas.

“What energizes me is being able to talk to people about the Lord,” Yvonne says. 

After serving nearly 30 years in law enforcement with New York City’s transit authority, Tim can empathize with local officers and Border Patrol agents who have been overwhelmed by the unprecedented surge of immigrants illegally crossing the U.S. southern border. 

“On the Tour, we’ve talked to dozens in every town we go to,” Tim said. “We’re just trying to tell them that there’s hope, there’s hope, there’s hope. What an average cop might see a few times in their career, they’re seeing over and over and over again.” 

The “human carnage” along the southern border, Tim said, is a humanitarian crisis on both sides. “Border Patrol officers are emotionally and physically exhausted,” he said. “Everywhere they go, everyone hates them.” 

And that’s why the BG-RRT chaplains’ ministry of presence to the law enforcement community is so powerful. “They are happy that we are here,” Tim said. “Let somebody tell you their story. It’s so important to listen to people’s stories.”

More than 7,000 people came to the Don Haskins Center on the campus of the University of Texas at El Paso March 3 and heard Franklin preach from the Gospel of John about Nicodemus visiting Jesus one night.

“Tonight, Jesus is telling you the same thing he told Nicodemus 2,000 years ago: ‘You must be born again,’” Franklin said.

Fifteen-year-old Ashley, of Juarez, Mexico, across the river from El Paso, was one of more than 800 people who responded to Franklin’s invitation. “Today, I really wanted to confess my sins to God,” Ashley said.

For Maria De Santiago, serving as a prayer team member was a full-circle moment of a story that began in 2014. That’s when she rededicated her life to Christ after Franklin preached at a Festival of Hope in El Paso. This time, Maria was able to pray and encourage a woman in her 30s named Angelica who was doubting her salvation in Christ.

“I’m very emotional right now,” Maria said. “I’m so happy that God is using me.”

Tucson, Arizona

Jeremy Camp leads worship in Tucson, Arizona. Photo: Ron Nickel / ©2024 BGEA

Moving west from El Paso, Texas, the Frontera Tour came to Tucson, the second largest city in Arizona, for its eighth stop—one of two in the Grand Canyon State. 

As prayer volunteer Kristin Reeb listened to the sermon from Franklin on the night of March 5, one question played in her mind: Would she be able to pray with someone who wanted to receive Christ? More than 11,000 people had poured into the Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium. At least 1,000 volunteers had spread the word in the community, and more than 700 prayer team members were ready to minister.

“It was great that there were so many people,” Kristin said. “But I knew that would make it hard to find someone who needed a prayer partner.”

Franklin preached about Simon, the Pharisee who invited Jesus to his house. 

“Many people are religious,” he said. “But I’m here to tell you that religion won’t save you.” The audience leaned in. A man sitting on the ground drew his knees to his chest as the sermon continued. 

“Simon had religion,” Franklin said, “but he didn’t have a relationship. I want you to know tonight that you can have a relationship with Jesus.”

When the invitation came, Kristin made her way to the stadium floor, where inquirers would gather. She had almost let her fears keep her away from the event, but she followed the Holy Spirit’s leading to come, and she desperately wanted to help someone receive Jesus. She struggled to find someone to pray with, but when those who came forward were asked to raise their hands if they needed a counselor, she saw hands go up near the stage.  

“I felt this urgency,” she said, like ‘I’m supposed to be way up there!’” She wove her way through the crowd, to the platform, where a woman stood with a little girl, crying. 

“I asked Jesus to come into my heart,” the woman said. “I’ve been struggling. It’s just been this long road, and I’m in recovery. It’s been so hard.”

Kristin put her arms around the woman, then helped her fill out a decision card.

“I prayed with her and her little daughter. Then I was able to give her the wonderful copy of God’s Word that the ministry provided, and she was so appreciative.

“Throughout the city, I had seen people who were homeless and addicted, and I wondered if they would come to an event like this. Well, they did, and I’m so glad.”

Yuma, Arizona

A prayer team member speaks to a man in Yuma, Arizona. Photo: Ron Nickel / ©2024 BGEA

When Vanessa saw the invitation for the Frontera Tour on her front door, she called her cousin in California to ask if she knew anything about it. 

Her cousin urged her to go to the March 7 event in her hometown of Yuma, Arizona.

“God has something for you,” Adriana said. 

Vanessa knew she needed help. She and her husband, Abraham, had been having marital issues for some time. A week earlier, as Christians were praying for their city, things had gotten so bad that Abraham had called a nearby church, desperate for help. 

The pastor told Abraham how God could change their lives and their marriage if they would put their faith in Him. 

Abraham hadn’t been to church in years, since he moved to the U.S. from across the border in Mexico. Adriana and her husband, Frank, had been talking to Abraham and Vanessa about God for a long time, and both had been resistant. But when Vanessa saw the invitation, she stopped hesitating. She said, “I think it’s time.”

Adriana and Frank met them at the event at the Yuma Fairgrounds, and as the music began and jets from the nearby Marine Corps air station flew overhead, the Holy Spirit began a work in their hearts. Franklin preached from Daniel 5 about the wicked king Belshazzar and how he lost his life because he worshipped gods of wood and stone and led the nation of Israel away from the one true God. 

“God is going to judge our sins, just like he judged Belshazzar,” Franklin said. “But tonight, He’s willing to forgive. But you have to come to God His way, and that’s through the cross of Jesus Christ.”  

Vanessa and Abraham were ready. 

“They jumped up there to receive Christ,” Adriana said. “It was beautiful. We were in tears. We looked at each other and said, ‘Mission accomplished.’ That sermon was custom made for them.”

 When asked why she joined the hundreds of others going forward, Vanessa said, “God was calling me. It was my time.” 

The following Sunday, Abraham, Vanessa and their four children went to church. 

“The event Thursday night was the best experience ever,” Vanessa said the following week. “We felt so relieved. And going to church is the best thing we could ever do for our children and for our family.”

Chula Vista, California

Many came forward at the Tour stop in Chula Vista, California. Photo: Thomas J. Petrino / ©2024 BGEA

The Frontera Tour culminated on March 9, a cool Saturday evening in Chula Vista, California, a bedroom community of San Diego. More than 5,700 people attended the meeting at the North Island Credit Union Amphitheater.

As Franklin Graham preached about the value of the human soul, on a stage surrounded by palm and cypress trees and green lush hills topped with houses in the background, Loly Lomeli’s mind took a journey back over her life. 

When she was a little girl, her mom became a Christian, and they started attending church together, both in love with Jesus. When Loly was in the 10th grade, her mom was diagnosed with cancer and was given just six months to live. 

“She lived five years, glory to God, and she was like my partner.” Loly took a deep breath as the tears came, then she continued. “I was there for her from the beginning to the end. When she passed away, I was on and off from church, because I felt like I had lost my partner.”

As Franklin talked about how nothing is more valuable than the soul, Loly felt the familiar tug of the Holy Spirit, nudging her to give Him back His place in her heart. 

“Tonight, it just felt right to come at this time and give my life to God,” she said. “To somehow walk in His purpose and make my mom proud.” 

A young woman named Karol and her boyfriend were also among those coming forward, and they both tearfully rededicated their lives to Christ.  

“We’ve been dating four months,” Karol said, “and we just want to lay a strong foundation for our relationship and do everything correctly.”

Her boyfriend echoed that desire. 

“I remade my own promise to God tonight,” he said. “And we made a new promise, that as a couple we would come back and give our lives to God. I’ve been out of church 11 years, but tonight I feel lighter. I feel cleansed. I feel like the weight that I was carrying has been lifted from me.”

And with that, the 10-city Frontera Tour, having logged close to 1,500 miles, came to an end, leaving thousands of changed lives in its path along the U.S.-Mexico border. 

“We give God the glory,” Franklin posted on social media the next day. “Great things He has done!”

Pastor Mike MacIntosh Leads Prayer

Pastor Mike MacIntosh prays with Franklin backstage. Photo: Logan Ryan / ©2024 BGEA

For each stop of the God Loves You Tour, Franklin Graham asked a longtime friend, Pastor Mike MacIntosh, to pray backstage with the artists, crew and stagehands who toiled long hours to bring the Tour to 10 cities across 1,500 miles in just 15 days.

MacIntosh, who pastored Horizon Christian Fellowship in San Diego for 41 years, now leads a ministry called the United States Prayer Force, with a goal of mobilizing 1 million people to specifically pray for America to repent of her sins, and for an outpouring of God’s forgiveness and love.

When it comes to prayer, MacIntosh lives what he preaches. Hours before the Tour event in Laredo, he talked with Decision about the importance of prayer. Pages in a spiral notebook were filled with notes about who and what he had prayed for that day.

“I start in the morning and I wait on the Lord,” he said. Pointing to part of one page, he said, “This is for Franklin.” Then other sections: “This is the team, the churches, the counselors. I pray for the whole team; I’m praying more specifically now that I see the pressures they face. Each day it changes. Every day is brand-new, and His mercies are new every morning.”

Later, when sound checks were finished but the arena doors had not yet opened, the artists, crew and stagehands gathered in a circle as MacIntosh thanked them for their labor and prayed, asking God to bless them and their work.

For some of the stagehands, being prayed for was a new experience. Some approached MacIntosh afterward and, holding back tears, thanked him for those prayers. 

“One by one, our prayer time led to ‘friends time’ at dinner or downtime,” MacIntosh said after the Tour. “Friends talking about Jesus.” ©2024 BGEA

Photo: Logan Ryan / ©2024 BGEA

Subscribe to Decision Email Devotional

Subscribe to Decision Email Devotional

Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

About Us     Contact Us     Privacy
©2024 Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. BGEA is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.