By JOHN FORTMEYER
At press time for this newspaper, more than half of the United States have so far experienced something that hundreds of thousands of participants believe could change the spiritual direction of the nation.
Later this month, it’s the Pacific Northwest’s turn.
On Tuesday, June 28 in Salem, and then Wednesday, June 29 in Olympia, Wash., evangelist Franklin Graham will hold two of his 50 Decision America rallies outside the respective state capitol buildings.
Thousands of people are expected at each of the Northwest events, and organizers encourage those planning to attend to come at least two hours early so as to find a place to park. Those who are unable to attend are invited to view the events live at DecisionAmericaTour.com
The purpose of the Decision America tour, which began in January, is straightforward, according to Graham, son of famed evangelist Billy Graham. Emphasizing that the United States is deeply troubled in many ways, the tour calls for believers in Christ to humbly seek God’s intervention for the nation.
“Because Jesus Christ is the only hope for America, we call our nation to God and pray for His forgiveness and blessing, and for the liberty and freedom to continue to proclaim His name until He returns,” said Graham.
Graham believes it is critical for followers of Christ to take such action.
“We have a responsibility as the Church to be salt and light in the world,” he said. “We are to speak the truth of God’s Word to a society whose spiritual and moral foudation is crumbling at an alarming rate. The only hope for our nation is for us to pray, seek His face, and stand firm on the Word.”
Close to 800 churches in Oregon and Washington are supporting the rallies by agreeing with the Decision America purposes, praying for Graham, promoting the events and encouraging their congregations to attend. Churches can still register their endorsement of the tour at DecisionAmericaTour.com
Nationally, most of the rallies held so far have been in the southern states; remaining rallies will primarily take place in northern states. Average turnout has been about 4,000 — highest at one rally was 10,000, and lowest — in 18-degree February cold in New Hampshire — was about 1,500. The outdoor rallies in each capital city are held rain or shine.
The program at each rally is simple. Musician Dennis Agajanian, a longtime associate of the Graham team and a close friend of Franklin Graham, opens with about five to 10 minutes of music. Then Graham both speaks and leads prayer for roughly a half-hour.
There are no other featured speakers and no one else is introduced.
As with all Graham team events, those who have not chosen to make Jesus Christ their Lord and Savior are invited to do so.
The rallies were promoted at special pastors’ luncheons in Salem and Olympia in early March. A similar luncheon also was held last month at Corban University in Salem.