If you were playing a game of “One of These Is Not Like the Other” Friday night in Berkeley, fingers would’ve pointed at Franklin Graham.
After all, he was holding the eighth prayer event of his Decision America California Tour in one of the most liberal cities in the United States. But even Jesus found Himself in strange places where people felt He didn’t belong.
“A lot of people said, ‘Don’t go to Berkeley. Why do you want to go to Berkeley?’” Franklin recalled.
“I want to go to Berkeley and tell them that God loves them! I want Berkeley to know that Jesus Christ is God’s Son and that He came from Heaven to this earth to take our sins, my sins, your sins.
“I want the world to know that,” he told the crowd at Cesar Chavez Park.
The unlikely pair of Franklin Graham and Berkeley, California, meant extra attention ahead of Friday’s event.
A small group of protestors gathered outside the venue with banners, but the prayer rally went on as planned without a hitch.
News cameras huddled at the back of the crowd simply meant more opportunity for the Gospel to be shared where it otherwise may not have been.
And that’s really what the Decision America California Tour has been about.
Leading up to Berkeley, churches in the area started to mobilize and pray, understanding the opposition they were up against.
“Berkeley takes it to a new level,” one leader said. “Christianity is not just ignored or neglected. It’s actually abhorred.”
But Friday night as the sun set on Berkeley, Franklin reminded the city no matter how much the Bible is pushed aside, its truth remains.
“God’s laws and His standards don’t change,” he said. “You’ve got to come to God His way.”
A Public Stage
Friday’s event reminded Monty Chipman of her days serving with Jews for Jesus. Sitting in a lowriding lawn chair next to her husband Bill, she recalled how the group would “hold the streets”—a term they used for taking the church outside its four walls and into neighborhoods.
“This is holding the public square for the Gospel,” she said. “The trend is to try and [box] Christians in their churches and keep them there.”
The Chipmans understand how the Gospel on a public stage can change lives.
Bill’s father was saved at Billy Graham’s 1958 San Francisco Bay Area Crusade. A short time after, Bill also made a decision to accept Christ and started attending the church where he eventually met Monty.
Now, Bill volunteers a couple of hours a week answering calls for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
“I can tell you all that God offers in 15 seconds,” he said with a smile. “There are people who are desperate to have their lives changed.”
‘You’ll Learn What to Say’
Knowing the need for hope is why Bill, Monty and more than 2,000 others decided to come pray with Franklin Graham in Berkeley.
Monty hopes people will also put those prayers into action—especially with California’s primary election on June 5.
She’s worked as a voting poll inspector and often writes and calls legislators about bills that don’t sit well with the Bible.
“You’ve got to take a stand. They’ve got to hear your voice,” she explained.
“So many Christians I know aren’t even registered to vote,” Monty added. “They think, ‘What’s my one little vote?’”
And the same goes for sharing their faith.
“We know a lot of people who are believers and love the Lord but are scared stiff to tell others how to know Jesus,” Monty continued. “They think, ‘What if they ask me something and I don’t know all the answers?’
“You’ll learn what to say!”
God does promise He’ll make up for our weakness.
As Franklin Graham leaves Berkeley and heads to the next stop in Chico, will you pray that believers in California and around the nation will boldly take a stand for Christ?