An Estimated 6,200 Attend Sunshine State Tour in Panama City Beach

By Jonathan Fawcett, TJ Petrino and Paul Sherar   •   January 15, 2020

There were plenty of camping chairs and blankets spread across the lawn of Aaron Bessant Amphitheater, but many people chose to stand during a time of worship. It was a time to acknowledge God’s power, focus on His goodness and submit to His authority.
The Decision America Sunshine State Tour reached the halfway mark on January 14, for a total of six cities between January 11-19.
Franklin Graham led the Panama City Beach crowd of 6,200 in praying over America and its leaders on both ends of the political spectrum. “We pray that you would unite their hearts to serve their nation,” he prayed.
Panama City Beach is on the Florida Panhandle, facing the Gulf of Mexico. Known for its white sand beaches and turquoise waves, it draws thousands of tourists each year. With temps reaching the mid-70s during this January tour, it was common to see people taking a stroll down 27 miles of gorgeous coastline.
"For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” —Matthew 18:20, ESV
While most people witnessed the Panama City Beach stop in person, another 1,500 watched online. For those physically at the venue, Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains were on hand if anyone wanted to talk or pray. Teams of chaplains deployed to the Panama City area for months after Hurricane Michael hit in October 2018.
Beach lovers may talk about “beach therapy” as the ultimate way to unwind from the stresses of life. While the salt air may do the soul good, it can’t fix everything. Franklin Graham touched on some of life’s greatest troubles on Tuesday night.
“Have you ever wanted to run from your problems?” Graham asked those gathered. “I have!” came one woman’s response from the crowd. Maybe you have, too. But running won’t make the problems go away. So what’s the solution? Life with Jesus doesn’t necessarily make things easier, but it does mean He walks with you through thick and thin, changes your heart, and offers eternal life with no more pain and suffering.
“Jesus loves you with all of His heart,” Jeremy Camp shared onstage. “No matter what you’re going through tonight, He is faithful.”
Jeremy Camp said when he’s on tour, he tells his kids he’s out sharing what Jesus has done in his life. His wife and children have joined him on the trek across Florida, a great way for his kids to see their dad in action. “They realize it’s not me that’s going out and playing music, that I’m actually ministering the Gospel,” he said. What talent has God given you? How can you use it to share Jesus with people?
Each night of the tour, and during every other Decision America Tour before it, people have stood to their feet in a show of desperation for Jesus Christ. What’s your relationship with Jesus like? Do you have one yet? If you’d like to, don’t wait; explore what that means now.
Panama City is a military base, and patriotism was strong Tuesday night as thousands sang along to Dennis Agajanian’s rendition of “God Bless America.” Men held their hats to their chests and women sang the high notes, unafraid to show pride in their country. Franklin Graham has said his main motivation for the Decision America Tour is concern for the spiritual state of this nation.
At the end of his message, Graham invited those who wanted to give their lives to Jesus to stand where they were. One after another stood above the crowd, some on their own, some in clusters. No one can know the impact even one life can have on eternity.
Across from the amphitheater is Pier Park shopping center, full of stores and entertainment. We’re grateful for every person who chose to spend the evening volunteering with the Sunshine State Tour—from counselors to security; for each one who made their way to the venue on a weekday and school night; and for all who watched online. Thank you for joining Franklin Graham in prayer for this nation and for your heart to reach others with the Gospel.