An outdoor event in Iowa. During the middle of a workday. In January.
Franklin Graham had a unique calling: to hold prayer rallies in all 50 state capitals. But he’ll be the first to tell you that 282 days ago, waiting for noon to come around in windy and snowy Des Moines, with temperatures in the teens—it was a bit of a challenge.
“I thought to myself, if 50 people showed up, that would be a pretty good crowd,” Franklin Graham said, opening the final Decision America Tour stop on Thursday in Raleigh, North Carolina.
An estimated 2,500 concerned Americans launched Franklin Graham’s “campaign for God” that day in January on the ice-packed Iowa State Capitol steps. The Decision America Tour was officially off and running.
Finishing the tour with a massive crowd of about 14,200 in his home state, he reflected on when it all began.
“They didn’t come to hear me,” Franklin Graham said. “They came to pray.”
Did they ever. Attendees endured 18-degree bitterness in Concord, New Hampshire; downpours in Jefferson City, Missouri; a 100-degree heat index in Springfield, Illinois.
Protesters tried to derail the tour—particularly organizers in California, Wisconsin and in the upper corners of the U.S. But nothing stopped nearly a quarter of a million people from standing with Franklin Graham across the nation, passionately crying out to God to save this country.
And nothing has changed the message.
“America is in trouble,” Franklin Graham said on the steps of the North Carolina State Capitol Thursday. “Our only hope is in Almighty God.”
A total of 236,950—an average of nearly 5,000 people per stop—joined the Decision America Tour in person. Add to that more than 150,000 live views online. Thursday alone, over 287,000 people watched via Facebook Live.
Franklin Graham’s three-fold message has been simple and steady: Pray. Vote. Engage.
“Freedom of religion was intended so we can live out our religion 24/7,” Franklin Graham said. “Our job as Christians is to make the impact of Christ felt in every facet of life.”
Among the 14,000-plus crowd on Thursday were Diane and Randy Vaughn, who drove 90 miles from Kernersville, North Carolina, to witness the historic tour finale.
“I agree with everything Franklin Graham said—period,” Randy said.
“I think it’s monumental,” Diane said of the tour’s final stop. “He’s a bold voice. Everyone knows the Graham name. And to go to every state capital shows his commitment and his service to the Lord. I don’t know anyone else who has done this.
“I think it’s pretty cool that he did stop No. 50 here in North Carolina.”
More than 111,000 people have signed the Decision America Tour pledge, which calls on Christians to live out their faith in private and public, vote for candidates who support biblical values, and prayerfully consider running for office.
In other words: Pray. Vote. Engage.
“I was just talking to my husband about running for an office,” Raleigh resident Lynn Dixon said. “I don’t know what office, but I’m going to start praying about it. Franklin said start praying about running, and I can do that.”
In addition to calling Christians to action, Franklin Graham has shared a clear Gospel message at all 50 stops, giving everyone in attendance an opportunity to make a decision to follow Jesus Christ. As a result, more than 8,000 people nationwide have responded. “If you’ve never invited Christ in your heart, you can do that right now,” he said Thursday.
The tour ended with Franklin Graham imploring everyone to keep praying for America, to get involved in local politics and to be a “community organizer for God.”
Just before the final shofar was blown, he reminded those listening of the difference they could make.
“We can only do it if we surrender ourselves completely to God, allowing Him to work in us,” Franklin Graham said. “We need your voice. We need the Christian voice.”
Fired-up and ready to act, Dixon added a hearty amen to what was said on Thursday.
“Oh my goodness, we’ve got to pray,” she said. “I know Franklin Graham is a praying man. I know God had to call him to do this.
“I just hope God calls him to do some more.”