When Nichole Regnier heard the Decision America Tour with Franklin Graham was rolling through California this past spring, she knew she wanted to take her family.
She and her husband, Ian, have six children from ages 3 to 12. They live in Oregon but were spending some time in Northern California when the tour came to Chico on June 3.
“I really, really wanted to go,” Nichole said.
“I went to see Billy Graham when I was 10. I went with my great-grandmother who was pretty much the only believer in my family. She just passed away, and I thought, ‘How beautiful would it be for me to take my kids to see Franklin Graham, since I went to see Billy?'”
But the Regniers have been riding out a difficult season, and when the Chico event came around Nichole didn’t have the gas money to take everyone. She stayed home with her younger children and asked her mom if she could take the two oldest girls.
Nine-year-old Zoey and 12-year-old Julia went to Chico and heard worship music from Jeremy Camp and a simple, direct Gospel message from Franklin Graham. Both girls decided to re-dedicate their lives to Christ and texted their decisions to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA).
“My tummy was doing cartwheels, I was so excited,” Nichole said. “Especially when you’re in a time of your life when you feel like you’re failing them.”
Between changes with Ian’s job and an attempt to move to California that fell through, life has felt uncertain. The family hasn’t found a steady church home since moving to Oregon almost two years ago, and that has weighed on Nichole’s heart. The news about her daughters’ time in Chico was just what she needed.
“For that to happen at that specific time, it was just great. It just gave me a little bit of hope that we’re OK.”
From California to Oregon
The whole family was planning to go together, but Ian was called into work and Nichole needed to stay home with their 3-year-old twin boys. Some friends of the family offered to take Julia and Zoey again.
Those friends—Jessica and Mike Coble—got to watch four of their daughters make decisions for Christ. Their oldest girls, 12- and 13-year-olds Kaydence and Kayla, re-dedicated their lives to God.
Jessica said her daughters Kelsey and Kori, ages 8 and 10, prayed to accept Christ, “truly understanding what it means to become saved.” And they started asking about being baptized.
The Medford event was also significant to the Regnier family. Julia and Zoey once again shared that the message they heard drew them closer to God, and Zoey decided to text BGEA with a question about prayer.
Each text is seen by a member of the BGEA team, and families are quickly connected with a local church that’s part of the ministry’s growing church directory.
After her girls texted during the Chico event in June, Nichole was contacted by a local pastor. At the time, Nichole wasn’t ready to share much and was unsure about whether the church would be a good fit for her family of eight.
After Zoey’s text at the Medford event, the same pastor called again. This time, Nichole was ready to open up.
“I said, ‘Wow, you’re really bugging me!’ So we both kind of chuckled and then we talked.”
She said getting a response from a real person at a local church was a nice touch.
“It’s more personalized, because I can’t tell a computer, ‘You’re bugging me’ and get the laughter from it and the ‘I know, but I’m still gonna keep bugging you’ type of conversation. It’s nice. I really needed it.”
She’s hopeful the church could be the right fit for her family.
“I’m not very sensitive, not emotional—I’m just not,” she said. “But when you’re ready to hear something or accept God’s path for you, you tend to get teary-eyed when someone says, ‘Hey, let me help you.'”
As far as Nichole sees it, the two Decision America events in two states may not have worked out the way she planned, but God had it all figured out.
“God works everything for good.”
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