“Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.'” —John 3:3
Being born again confounded the Pharisee Nicodemus in Jesus’ day, and he sincerely quizzed the Son of God on what exactly that meant. How could a human being actually be born again? It just wasn’t something he could get his mind around.
But what the intellectually bright Nicodemus couldn’t grasp wasn’t lost on a wave of people who stood to their feet during Saturday’s Decision America Northeast Tour stop in West Springfield, Massachusetts. As Franklin Graham shared the slice of Scripture from John 3, he invited the crowd of 5,600 people to publicly declare their faith in Christ.
“Whatever mountain that is in front of you, I can tell you tonight that Jesus Christ is the answer to your problems,” Graham said. “Maybe like Nicodemus you’d like to come to Jesus.”
Cheyanne Hernandez didn’t hesitate. The 13-year-old stood to her feet with her mother Esther Djamabaer by her side. She knew in that moment she wanted to accept Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior.
“There’s a lot of hatred going around,” Cheyanne said. “Hatred is a very strong word. Hatred is a very strong thing, and it spreads around quickly. I wanted to get clear of hatred.
“[My decision] does give me peace, a lot of peace. It calms me down, and it clears my mind from school and all the drama.”
Esther’s eyes filled with tears. She’s been praying for the moment that Cheyanne would establish her own relationship with Christ.
“It can make a major difference just going through life knowing that you have an Ally,” Esther said. “You have Someone Who has your back. Someone Who loves you no matter what. The bullies in school and the issues in school, whatever. God’s always got your back. You don’t have to worry about who’s teasing and who’s not. You’re like well, I’m a child of God. That makes me a princess. God is your rock.”
Volunteer Erin Chase led Cheyanne in prayer, and said she felt honored to do so. She later marveled at Cheyanne’s youth and her boldness.
“I was sharing with them that I didn’t experience the love of God until I was 37,” Erin shared, eyes shining. “So to be able to experience something as amazing as this with a young woman who has her entire life in front of her—it’s pretty amazing.”
Jose Cruz and his wife Shannon of nearby Holyoke can attest to the transforming power of Jesus Christ. He rededicated his life three years ago, and at that same time, she chose to accept Christ. On Saturday, Shannon danced with her young daughter as Dennis Agajanian strummed his guitar and sang to open the fourth stop of the tour in worship.
“This is the first time we’ve been walking in our Christian faith that we’ve gotten to experience something of this magnitude,” Jose said of the evangelical event while holding his toddler son.
Shannon said it “meant everything” to bring their small children to the tour stop. Shannon, a hairdresser, is learning how to share her faith. Being born again—that is finding new life through Jesus Christ—helped her in ways she couldn’t have envisioned.
“This has been the best three years of my life,” Shannon said. “It’s because I have Jesus with me all the time. I lost my brother and I never would have gotten through that without my church, my pastor and his (Jose’s) support.”
“New birth is a new direction,” Graham further explained from stage. “It’s the union of the soul with Christ. Christ comes through the Holy Spirit to take up residence in your body.”
It’s a transformation, and one that prayer volunteer Harrison Valerio experienced six years ago as a 21-year-old. The party scene wasn’t doing it for him. Surely there was more to life, he thought. So he prayed. Two days later, a friend invited him to church. Harrison attended, accepted Christ and his whole life changed. Well, not his whole life. The native New Yorker smiled, saying he will always be a Yankees fan—even in Red Sox country.
Looking back on his life, he can’t imagine his future without Jesus.
“Springfield is in need of Jesus,” Harrison said. “And it’s in need of people who love Jesus.”
The Western Massachusetts area gained one more Jesus-follower in Susette Biermann. A resident of nearby Holyoke, she also stood to declare her desire to accept Jesus Christ into her heart. She felt confused, just like Nicodemus, when she arrived at Saturday’s event.
“I’ve been just trying to find out what’s going on,” Susette said, standing on the top bleacher, high above the sea of people praying or standing ready to close out the event worshipping with David Crowder.
“I’ve been reading the Bible, and something was not clicking. I went to church last week,” Susette explained. “I’m still confused a little bit on certain things. I admired [Franklin Graham’s] father so much that I wanted to listen to [Franklin], and maybe he’d help me understand.
“He did. And I just feel so good inside now. Hopefully I can move forward and just let the past go away.”
Are you yearning for new life? Find peace with God today.