In the Western Texas plains sits Midland, a town speckled with oil rigs and home to about 135,000 people. Originally a railroad stop between Fort Worth and El Paso, the town served as the second stopping point on Decision Texas: The Lone Star Tour with Franklin Graham on Thursday night.
Around 5,100 people gathered at the Midland Horseshoe Arena Amphitheater not only to pray and worship as a community but, more importantly, in hopes that their neighbors and friends who hadn’t done so already would claim Christ as Lord of their lives.
By the end of the night, one couple, Lupe Salgada and Ruby Fruasto, along with Fruasto’s niece, Carena Garcia, stood with dozens of others in front of the stage to make that claim and begin their lives with Christ.
“We’ve been waiting for this day!” said 8-year-old Garcia, bouncing around the sidewalk with a booklet she’d been given about growing in her new faith.
Garcia was looking forward to the tour stop for days and said afterwards that she wanted to be forgiven for the “bad things” she’s done.
“I want to be nicer to people,” she said.
That genuine, childlike faith is something Midland Christians would like to see others embrace.
“People here will say ‘God bless you’ and invite you to church,” 14-year-old Christina Carrasco said, but she’s noticed that especially among people her age, there’s a move away from Christianity and faith in God in general.
She, along with Christa Carrasco, 15, and Isaiah Salinas, 11, all have non-Christian friends and want to be bold in sharing their faith.
Franklin Graham spoke about the urgency of sharing Christ as he touched on all the disasters the country has faced in the past few months. As the nation absorbs the impact of hurricanes, wildfires and shootings, Americans are reminded that this life won’t last forever, he said. Cities can rebuild, but eventually eternity will greet everyone, and it’s up to every person what that eternity will be like.
Most in town may identify as Christians, Brooke Holland said as she sat on a lawn chair with her two daughters, “but what that looks like varies greatly.”
Destin Bimokono agrees. Originally from Congo, Bimokono works in Midland as a petroleum engineer.
“I think [Christians here] are getting complacent,” he said, but prays that in five years, he’ll see his town “fired up for the Lord.”
That kind of change starts with Christians like him. He prays for open doors to share his faith at work, and said, “I think the best preaching is our life.”
Our actions and prayers aren’t to be taken lightly. Franklin Graham reminded the the Texas crowd that God hears the prayers of the righteous (James 5:16).
With lights from the stage illuminating thousands of faces in the crowd, many could be seen and heard praying together out loud for their country and its leaders to align with God.
One of the nation’s leaders, former President George W. Bush, has a special connection to Midland, the site of his childhood home. Bush once said, “It is here in West Texas where I learned to trust in God.”
After Thursday night, many more can make the same claim.