The past two weeks have been a tough week for many! Last week I went to a funeral for a dear friend who died of breast cancer. While she had been sick, her death seemed sudden. Another friend lost a parent suddenly this week. Another friend took a loved one to Hospice today. And I have another funeral this week. Life is hard and we do not have the promise of tomorrow. James 4:13-14, “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”
Life is hard but what a comfort knowing that those people embarked on the journey from Earth to Heaven. When they arrived God wrapped His arms around them and said, “Welcome home!” I am not surprised that God had prepared me for being a prayer counselor at the Franklin Graham Decision Tour Tuesday night in Fayetteville. He knew I needed to be reminded of the gift of eternity. Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” What a blessing and a comfort to know my friends are with Jesus Christ this very minute!
Fayetteville was number one of eight North Carolina cities The Billy Graham Evangelical Association would visit in 13 days. Because Mike and I were going to be out of town for the Wilmington crusade we drove to Fayetteville. I had a nervous excitement all week but especially that day. I was reminded of a minister telling me one time not to confuse nerves with the excitement of the Holy Spirit. I believe it was the Holy Spirit being excited for me! When we got in the car Mike asked me if I was excited. I told him, “Yes, but I do not know what to expect.” He replied, “Expect Jesus.” Wow!
As a volunteer we got there early and could sit as close as we wanted. We were about three rows back - to get in the shade. An hour before the event the prayer counselors met for last minute instructions and a prayer. I went to training for this honor and I have read their literature about being a prayer counselor but the more the man talked to us the more nervous I got. He talked about how important this decision is that someone is making. It is the decision to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. It is the decision that determines where they will spend eternity. I was overwhelmed and weepy. I found a brook along the edge of the park and I had a little quiet time. I told God I was scared of messing up. All of a sudden this role was too big for me. God reminded me it would not be me. The Holy Spirit would give me the words. Walking back to my seat I was in awe that there were 9,200 people worshiping under the stars.
Before the event started we had some warm up music and then Christian singer Jeremy Camp prepared our hearts. Then Franklin Graham preached the Biblical story of Naaman, who was pagan and a Syrian Army commander who had leprosy. Naaman had to give up his pride in order to be healed by God. Naaman had power, honor, wealth and courage, but this could not heal him. Franklin preached about how sin separates us from God, and the penalty of sin is death. Out of His great love for the world, God sent His only Son, Jesus, to Earth to die in our place. And because of that we can be with Him forever in Heaven if we repent and follow Christ. Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Then following in his father’s footsteps, Franklin Graham invited people to stand where they were if they wanted to pray to receive Christ as their Savior. I did not want to turn around and look but I can only imagine how many people were standing. I could see the first three rows and that was enough. The words of our trainer came back to me. You have prepared for this by faith and now you are getting to see it. It also reminded me of the scripture telling us if God sends us out to do His work it will not come back void. Isaiah 55:11, “so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
I stood behind a lady near me and prayed quietly. At God’s appointed time, I listened as LeAnn prayed, “Dear God, I know that I am a sinner. I want to turn from my sins, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe that Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe He died for my sins and that You raised Him to life. I want Him to come into my heart and to take control of my life. I want to trust Jesus as my Savior and follow Him as my Lord from this day forward. In Jesus’ Name, amen.” And just like that LeAnn will spend eternity in Heaven where we will reunite again! Neither of us could speak so we just hugged. I sat in my chair so overcome with joy, humility, gratefulness. I was taken back to some of my favorite words we had sung earlier, “Then I shall bow, in humble adoration, And then proclaim: "My God, how great Thou art!"
Millions today are searching for something. They do not know where to go or what to do. Jesus says, “follow Me. I am the Way.” John 14:6, “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He shed His blood for each of us. When we ask Jesus into our hearts there is no shame, no blame and no condemnation. Just unconditional love.
I urge you to go to the Franklin Graham crusade this Saturday, October 5 in Wilmington (or another location you can find online at https://nc.billygraham.org/). It is about saving souls! If you or anyone you know needs to find their way this is a great time to take care of things. As Billy Graham said, “Let’s settle this once and for eternity.” Watch Jesus Christ be lifted up by thousands! Expect Jesus!