God’s Name Lifted High on First Stop of Sunshine State Tour

By Thomas Petrino & Paul Sherar   •   January 11, 2020

Seawalk Pavilion
On Saturday, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) launched a busy year of ministry in Jacksonville, Florida—stop one of the Decision America Sunshine State Tour. Held right along the coast at Jacksonville Beach’s Seawalk Pavilion, it was the second visit to the First Coast by Franklin Graham in recent years (coming to Veterans Memorial Arena in 2015). Billy Graham last preached in the city in 2000. "My father loved this town. He would start looking for excuses to come down to the Mayo Clinic. He'd say 'I think my arm is hurting a little bit. Better get down to Jacksonville.'"
Franklin Graham in Florida
Throughout the tour, Franklin Graham and Jeremy Camp are visiting various Florida cities to call the lost to Christ and encourage believers to live boldly for Him.
Jeremy Camp
The packed crowd clapped along to Jeremy Camp's upbeat songs. "How can you not be joyous knowing you’ve been taken out of that pit and given new life?" the singer-songwriter said while sharing about his own faith journey. >>Learn why Jeremy Camp participates in BGEA’s evangelistic events.
Franklin Graham interview
Local news crews covered the event and asked Franklin Graham about the purpose of his visit. "I want them to know God loves them," the evangelist responded.
Dennis Agajanian
Dennis Agajanian, a longtime friend and ministry partner of Franklin Graham, welcomed the crowd of 7,600 people with his fast strumming and country/folk tunes. He put a fun twist on the hymn "Nothing But the Blood" by singing a verse in Spanish.
young girl
Of Florida’s many well-known cities, Jacksonville boasts the state's largest and youngest population. As the event began, both sun-kissed children and well-seasoned citizens showed up to see what all the excitement was about.
woman worships
Thousands of voices singing praises to God echoed across the Seawalk Pavilion and into the surrounding area. Some restaurant patrons—who maybe did not plan on attending the Gospel-centered event—had a bird's-eye view from balconies overlooking the public venue.
people praying
When Franklin Graham came on stage, he started by inviting those gathered into a time of prayer. Many in the crowd held hands while lifting their city, state and nation up to God, praying for the leaders by name.
Franklin Graham preaching
In his first message of the Sunshine State Tour, Franklin Graham talked about the value of the human soul. >>Do you know your worth in God's eyes?
women listening
"God wants to forgive you," the evangelist said. "He wants to heal that broken heart." People across the expansive venue listened intently from their lawn chairs and blankets.
Decision America Sunshine State Tour
When it came time to respond to the Gospel message, many people in the crowd stood to indicate their surrender to Christ. >>Watch a young boy explain why he chose to stand.
men talking
Volunteer prayer counselors talked with each responder, and local churches will connect with them in the coming days as they begin a new journey with their Savior.
women talking
"I pray those who stood will find somebody to disciple them and really see growth," said Tammie McClafferty, a local believer who helped promote the event. "I pray this isn't just a one-day event, but a life-altering beginning."
Franklin Graham on stage
Would you join us in praying for each person who heard the Good News in Jacksonville on Saturday—including those who chose not to respond? We pray this event plants spiritual seeds that continue to grow for years to come.
Decision America Sunshine State Tour
Stop two of the Decision America Sunshine State Tour is in Plant City, about 200 miles south of Jacksonville. No matter where you live, you can join us in praying for this evangelistic outreach.