Franklin Graham talks evangelism, discipleship and Trump on UK God Loves You Tour

Franklin Graham
Franklin Graham | Courtesy of BGEA

Franklin Graham will be in Glasgow, Scotland, at the OVO Hydro on June 22 where thousands are expected to hear him preach, free of charge, as part of his God Loves You Tour in the U.K. 

Ahead of his Birmingham stop last Saturday, where over 8,000 people traveled from around the U.K. to hear Graham preach, he spoke with Christian Today about the message he's bringing and why he keeps coming back to the U.K.

CT: Are you happy to be back in the U.K.?

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FG: Absolutely, I'm happy to be back. We've been looking forward to this and it is a great privilege to be in this city.

CT: You don't just do one event but your organization, BGEA, partners with local churches in the run-up. How has that been going?

FG: It's been going extremely well. The demographic make-up of this city and indeed across the U.K. is very different from when my father [Billy Graham] was here 60 or 70 years ago. And there's a whole new group of churches that are Evangelical, excited and soul-winning. Almost 500 local churches are involved in this event and they're participating on a level that we haven't seen before. It's incredible.

CT: What do you want for Saturday's event?

FG: I want people to hear and understand that God loves them and that Jesus Christ shed His blood and died for our sins, but was raised to life on the third day and if we put our faith and trust in Him, God will forgive our sins and cleanse us and give to us the gift of eternal life. That's what I want for every person that comes; to know God's love and to experience His forgiveness and to have that hope of eternal life through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.

CT: This is not your first U.K. tour date, it's part of a longer ongoing tour. What kind of impact are you seeing as the tour has progressed?

FG: Last year and the year before that, we were in London and that went extremely well, and we will be there again next year, so it's a building process. What we wanted to do these last few years was to take time going to different cities and communities and preaching the Gospel.

It's one thing to talk about evangelism and it's another for someone to come and see a demonstration of it — to see the simple preaching of the Gospel and an invitation being given, and people getting out of their seats to come forward and confess their sins and put their faith and trust in Christ. My prayer is that there will be young pastors and young men and women out there who will see that and get a call in their heart from God that this is what they want to do with their life.

CT: The first time you came to the U.K. the reception was hostile. A lot of venues canceled your bookings and you took legal action, which you won. How has the reception been this time, especially from venues?

FG: Well, the hostility was not from the churches, it was from the venues, but all of that has been cleared up. We've got a good relationship with the venues and I think God has used all of that to give publicity and to inspire people to pray, and that's so important. People began to pray and we've seen God work out every venue and every problem, and all those things have been rectified. So we're excited to be here.

CT: What keeps you coming to the U.K.? What needs do you see here?

FG: First of all, the U.K. has had a huge impact on my country. So many pastors and missionaries came from this country to the United States, so I feel that we have an obligation to invest in this country the way that it invested in us. And every generation is new and changes, and has to be evangelized. The U.K. has seen great cultural and demographic shifts in the last 40 to 50 years, so it's important that we establish relationships with the churches to come and stand beside them and help them in this area of evangelism.

CT: So part of your mission seems to be evangelistic on the one hand, reaching those who aren't Christian yet, and on the other strengthening those that are?

FG: Well, it's sharing God's Word with people who've never heard it. Then, it's sharing God's word with people who have heard it but haven't made a decision. And then it's encouraging the churches and helping to strengthen them. That's important because it is the local churches that do the follow-up and discipleship with the people who come forward to make a decision for Christ.

CT: There are big elections coming up on both sides of the Atlantic this year and in both the U.S. and the U.K. there are a lot of divisions. What role can Christians play in this critical year?

FG: The first thing is to pray. Most of the world doesn't have a chance to vote or it can vote but it doesn't mean anything because they're not counted. But in the U.S. and U.K. we have an opportunity to vote and I think it's important to vote for candidates that best represent Christian values.

We often think about those who are running at the top of the ticket for president or prime minister, but there are elections further down that are extremely important. For example in the U.S., we can vote for people who sit on school boards and I think those are some of the most important elections. We have seen some terrible shifts in our country because people haven't been paying attention to local school board elections. Christians should run for office and get control of the school boards.

CT: You were a very strong supporter of former President Donald Trump last time. Will you be voting for him this time?

FG: I was strong for his policies but I did not campaign for him, not in 2016 or 2020, and this time round we don't know, he might be in prison! The politics in our country is so messed up and it's very concerning, but still we need to pray that God's will be done in leadership, not just in the U.S. but here in this country as well.

CT: There's a lot of upheaval in our world at the moment. What would you say to someone who's asking 'where's God in all this?'

FG: God's in the same place He's always been: knocking at the heart of each and every individual. He wants to come into your heart. When we look at all the problems in the world, we can't blame God because we turned our backs on God. God is still here; we just haven't been listening to Him. But He is knocking on the heart of every individual and He wants to come in if we'll let Him. That's why we're here in Birmingham. We're praying that many people will open up their hearts to God.

Originally published at Christian Today 

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