A Conversation With Franklin Graham
This week, Stream founder James Robison got a chance to sit and speak with Franklin Graham about the election, the impact of Graham’s 50-state Decision America Tour and the only thing that can truly “Make America Great Again.”
James Robison: How did you see God’s hand in this election? Do you consider what happened in some way to be a miracle?
Franklin Graham: Yes, in my opinion I believe God’s hand was involved in this election. I base that on going to all 50 capital cities and seeing the hundreds of thousands of people who came to pray. They didn’t come to hear me preach — they came from across their state to pray. They stood in rain, in snow, in the heat of summer to pray — confessing the sins of our nation to God and asking for forgiveness. Confessing their personal sins and asking for forgiveness. They prayed that God would bless this nation and that this nation would be healed and turned around from the direction it was going. I asked these people to start prayer cells in each community — to come together to pray for this country.
I believe in this election God’s hand was behind the scenes. I don’t have emails to pull out. I don’t have any kind of proof — it’s just something I believe in my heart because I saw what was happening in every state, and I think it was just the tip of the iceberg of what was going on across this country. Everywhere I went, people sensed that we were going the wrong direction and only God could turn it around. It wasn’t the Democrats or the Republicans that could save America, it wasn’t Donald Trump who could save America. Only God could do it.
James: I think it is not best for church leaders to endorse political parties or candidates, but to endorse biblical principles of truth — freedom’s principles. I have found that this approach keeps all candidates interested in what I might share and my prayers. It doesn’t cut them off from the biblical principles we try to uphold. Would you agree that this is a wise approach for most church leaders?
Franklin: Well, I think every person needs to make up their mind on it. For me, James, this past year when we went to all 50 capital cities, I would not endorse a candidate. When we started, the Republicans had more than 15 candidates, and I did not come out and endorse any of them. I think the Democrats had three at that time.
When it just came down to two candidates, I still did not endorse either of them. I did remind people as they considered who to vote for, that this election was not about bad language, it wasn’t about missing emails. That’s what the media wanted us to think. I stated that this election was far more important because it was about the Supreme Court. The next president was going to nominate a Supreme Court justice within a few days after taking office — and may get to nominate as many as five justices, depending on how many years they serve.
I reminded people to pray before they voted. But I would not endorse a candidate because I agree with you that I wanted to have the door open to talk to people who may be from a different persuasion than I am. I want them to be able to listen to me.
James: What did you learn from your dad about relating to political leaders, and is your approach similar or different?
Franklin: I think my approach might be different in the sense that we live in a different day. We are in a fierce culture war and it is having a negative effect, and even weakening the church. I am calling on pastors to stand strong and be faithful to the Word of God. America is a totally different country than it was even 10 years ago. The digital age has changed this country. The way we communicate has changed. You can reach more people on Facebook in one day than you can if you are on one of the major networks on a program. The ability to communicate with people is totally different today.
I think if God gives us an opportunity to communicate with any politician or government leader, we are there for a reason — and that is to be able to share the Word of God and let the politician know, “Thus saith the Lord.” If we don’t do that, I think we’ve failed.
James: Many Americans say “God bless America” almost as a closing statement or comment. Do you think that we Americans can expect God to bless America if we continue to hasten to shed innocent blood as it relates to abortion?
Franklin: No, I don’t — especially not long-term. I am hoping and praying that Donald Trump will appoint judges to the bench who will take a stand against abortion and that we can eventually see Roe v. Wade reversed. It’s going to take prayer because there will be a lot of pressure on President-elect Trump to nominate justices who will have different opinions and who might be soft on this issue. I believe God can bless America if America is moving in the right direction to correct the sins of its past.
There’s only One who can ultimately make America great again, and it’s not a political party or a politician — it is Almighty God.
James: Many cabinet nominees are being criticized by major media and the population because they have a gift that has enabled them to be productive and fruitful. Do you think they are assuming a risk to accept a position at this time when there is such intense animosity that they may have to engage in legal battles just to defend themselves? How do you feel about this situation, and how do we pray for them?
Franklin: If you accept any position in this Administration, you’re going to be attacked because the liberal left has an agenda. Right now, that agenda is being interrupted by Donald Trump. If they had won this election with Hillary Clinton, they would have been able to accomplish what they did not accomplish during the Obama administration. We need to pray for these cabinet members — that they will be strong and not give in, and that the president and vice president will not give in, but will stay strong and focused on making this country great again.
James: I think it is important that people understand you are referring to a very liberal left with a progressive secular agenda that is really anti-God. No matter how much they talk about God, they are committed to undermine the Constitution and the intention of the Founders, as well as the foundation stones of freedom. The hedge of truth must be put back in place. We are in a spiritual battle: light vs. dark, good vs. evil. As Christians, we must express truth with unconditional love, while not compromising the unshakable truths of God.
As it relates to making America great again, how do you think this can be accomplished?
Franklin: There’s only One who can ultimately make America great again, and it’s not a political party or a politician — it is Almighty God. For that to happen we need to do what God tells us in His Word: “If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” We need to turn back to Him. Instead of taking God out of things, we need His help and His wisdom. We need to pray every day for our leaders in Washington, that our new president and vice president will look to Him for wisdom and direction.
Making this country great again means returning to the foundations that this nation was built upon. The church had a huge part in these foundations. A hundred years ago, if a person was sick they went to a Presbyterian hospital in their community, or a Baptist, or a Catholic hospital, and if they couldn’t pay it was taken care of by the church. If your house burned down and you needed a place to go, you didn’t go to a local shelter — you went to the church. They would find someone in the community who could take care of you until you could get back on your feet again.
My prayer is also that the new president will empower the churches to once again take more responsibility in caring for the poor and the sick. Let the government focus on building the infrastructure we need to take care of our military and protect our borders, etc.
James: I don’t think we address any serious problem effectively without a compassion connection. You and I have worked alongside one another all over the world in difficult places and have seen what the power of love and compassion has done.
Franklin, you recently spoke at Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas, about the responsibility of following Christ. Can you share how we as believers can assume our responsibility with greater commitment to kingdom purpose?
Franklin: The most important thing for all believers to remember is this: The gospel has been entrusted to us. Jesus’ last command was to go into all nations and make disciples, “baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” We have a responsibility to take this gospel message to this generation. It’s the most important thing on our agenda.
I don’t want churches or individuals to think politics is the most important thing. Let the politicians do what they do. Let’s try to influence them, let’s give them advice from the Bible — but let’s not get distracted from what God has called us to do, and that is to tell a sin-sick world that our only hope is the Lord Jesus Christ. He took our sins to the Cross, He died on the Cross, He was buried on our sins — but on the third day, God raised His Son to life, and Jesus is alive and coming back soon! We need to do all we can to tell this world what God has done for us and what Jesus has done on the cross to the best of our strength and ability that God has given us.
James: What I hear you saying to the church is that it’s time for Christians to start doing what He left us here to do. The problem is not with the harvest. Jesus said, “The fields are white unto harvest.” The problem is getting Christians to go forth as faithful witnesses. Pray the Lord will send out more laborers into the field. We must share God’s transforming truth in love because the harvest fields are ripe!