DEL CITY, Oklahoma (Christian Examiner) – The church needs to get involved in politics, Franklin Graham said last week at the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma State Evangelism Conference.
Graham, president of Samaritan's Purse international relief organization and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, was one of eight guest speakers for the Southern Baptist group's annual event. Jim Cymbala of the Brooklyn Tabernacle was another headliner.
"Take a stand in your community," Graham urged his listeners. "Get involved in government; get involved in politics. ... All the anti-God people are in politics. Why shouldn't the church be there?"
But before he began his message, which he based on Matthew 8:23-27, Graham talked for five minutes about his 96-year-old father, the revered international evangelist Billy Graham.
He naps often, but his mind is clear and his love for his now-deceased wife Ruth Bell Graham is undiminished, Franklin Graham said in describing his father. A nurse and a helper provide 24-hour care so Billy Graham can remain living in his longtime home near Asheville, North Carolina.
Billy Graham stopped traveling when his wife Ruth grew ill, Franklin Graham said. He would pull a chair up to her bed, take her hand in his, and the two would look at each other for hours at a time, not saying anything because she had a soft voice and he was hard of hearing. "It was real sweet, the love they had for one another," Franklin Graham said. "He still misses her very, very, much."
Graham used the Scripture passage about Jesus and His disciples in a boat when a storm came up to describe the need he sees in the United States, and the only hope to meet that need.
Jesus told them, Graham said in a colloquial North Carolinian way: "Don't you realize guys this boat can't sink? I'm in this boat and if you're in this boat with me, you're not gonna sink."
"America has changed and it's not coming back unless the church takes a stand," Graham preached. "There are storms that are coming," storms of God's judgment. "I'm here to tell you the only hope ... is if this country repents of its sins and turns once again to the God of our fathers and to his son the Lord Jesus Christ."
When he was a child, in the 1950s and '60s, "we lived under the Red Threat," Graham said. "We realized communism was real. When the Berlin Wall came down, everybody said, 'We won!' and secularism came.
"Secularism and communism are the same thing," the Christian leader continued. "They're godless; they're antichrist. Now we have secularists who have taken control of our country. They've taken control of Washington, they've taken control of city governments, local governments, school boards all across the country and we have just sat back and it's happened and we haven't even realized it's happened.
"Now, you say, "Well, Franklin, you know your father wouldn't get on to these subjects. Wait a second. My father when he was going to school he had a Bible in school. When he was going to school they had the 10 Commandments on the wall. When he was going to school you could pray in school and the teachers would lead in those prayers. America has changed."
Graham said he has no confidence that any politician or political party could right what is wrong with this nation.
"The only hope for this country is for men and women of God to stand up and take a stand," Graham said. "We've got to take a stand. We cannot back up. We cannot run. We cannot retreat. ...
"We need Christians running for school boards," the Christian leader continued. "Do you know how important the school board job is? And so many times people don't even know who's running for the school board. We need men and women of God who take local elections serious."
Graham's plea for evangelical Christians to become engaged in the political process closed with a Gospel presentation and an invitation to make Jesus Christ the Lord of the new Christian's life.
"My hope is in Jesus Christ," Graham said. "I'm in His boat."