Waving six-inch American flags, crowds of people gently swayed back and forth to the sound of Christian worship music on the eastern side of the North Carolina State Capitol in downtown Raleigh Oct. 13. Church busloads poured onto the shaded lawn as they gathered to hear Franklin Graham speak, concluding a 10-month, 50-state series of rallies called the Decision America Tour.
Billy Graham Evangelistic Association photo
Members of Bikers for Christ provide security for Franklin Graham during his last Decision America 2016 stop Oct. 13 in Raleigh. Graham stopped in all 50 state capital cities.
The final event drew a record number of more than 14,000 people who listened to the son of well-known 20th century evangelist Billy Graham lead prayers, preach the gospel and call Christians to political action.
“The only hope for North Carolina, the only hope for the United States of America, is God,” said Graham, who is president and CEO of North Carolina-based Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
He taught briefly from Nehemiah 1:1-7, then led collective prayers inspired by the passage for the nation, self, family and civil servants.
As heads bowed and eyes closed, many attendees were audibly praying and weeping.
Graham also gave an evangelistic message and guided attendees through a prayer of repentance and commitment to Jesus. “Before our nation can be healed,” Graham said, “our individual hearts have to be right with God.”
Mark Harris, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte, traveled to Raleigh with a group from the church.
“We came because this is critically important and is making a critical impact across the country,” he said. “Franklin’s message is one that is very consistent – that we must be called to pray. I understand there are more people attending these rallies than any presidential candidates’ rallies across the board. I think that speaks volumes about where our country is. I pray that the folks who attend this rally will leave here not only inspired but very encouraged and challenged to put feet to their prayers after today.”
Neal Jackson, pastor of Beulah Baptist Church in Bennett, came with a group of 61 people from four Randolph County churches.
“We believe the hope for America resides not in an election but in calling on God in prayer,” he commented. “We’re going to vote; we’re going to do our civic duty. We’re also going to do our spiritual duty to ask God for mercy upon our state and upon our country.”
Graham spoke on topics ranging from an alleged moral decay of American society to religious freedom and upcoming state and national elections. He also encouraged Christians not only to vote, but to run for elected positions.
“We need men and women in office who love God, who fear God. … Today, America is being stripped of its God-inspired foundations, of its biblical heritage,” he said.
“It’s the duty of Christian men and women, I think, to offer themselves for public office.”
Graham warned that Christians in elected positions, such as county school boards, will face opposition.
“The progressives are going to call you names. They’re going to get in your face, but you’ve got to have thick skin. You’ve got to say, ‘I don’t care. You can call me every name you want … there’s more of us than there is of you [sic] so shut up and sit down.’”
Without officially endorsing a candidate, Graham emphasized his views about the 2016 U.S. presidential election: “This election is not about [Republican Donald Trump’s] vulgar language. It’s not about [Democrat Hillary Clinton’s] emails that are missing. That’s not what this election is about. That’s what the media wants you to focus on. This election is about the Supreme Court.”
Graham expressed support for N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory, alluding to the controversy surrounding the state’s bathroom law, House Bill 2.
“He has come under a lot of heat,” said Graham, “and I thank God for him.”
In closing, he said, “I want you to go back to your communities, be that advocate, an advocate for God’s truth, for His righteousness. Let’s elect men and women to office who will lead this nation back to really being one nation under God that can truthfully say once again ‘In God we trust.’”
(EDITOR’S NOTE –K. Allan Blume, BR editor, contributed to this story.)