INDIANAPOLIS?The oldest son of the world’s most famous preacher told Southern Baptist Convention messengers June 16 they are called to be witnesses and must tell the truth of sin and redemption even if it offends hearers.
Franklin Graham’s sermon closed out the SBC’s annual meeting, which drew nearly 9,000 messengers to the Indianapolis Convention Center. Sounding more like a fiery prophet than his evangelist father, Graham lamented a U.S. News & World Report article that he said described evangelical churches that “have a McDonald’s franchise in the lobby” and make visitors to feel like they are anywhere but a church.
The nature of the gospel makes people uncomfortable, Graham said. Believers must carry out the Acts 1:8 mandate of being Jesus’ witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth?even amid criticism.
“A witness has to tell the truth always. ? has to tell the truth no matter what,” Graham said. “You see, the truth is what God sent his Son to do ? the truth that Jesus Christ rose, suffered and died on the cross without sin, the truth that Jesus Christ is the only way to achieve eternal life. ‘You see, no man comes unto the Father but by me,’ Jesus said.”
The world dislikes hearing that its human goodness isn’t enough, he said. “It’s offensive, yes, but friends, you’ve got to tell the truth if you are going to be a witness.”
More than 3 million people have been executed by the Sudanese government in recent years, including many Christians, yet Graham said the church has flourished and grown amid the persecution.
Graham told of meeting the Sudanese president who had the “blood of millions on his hands.” Graham shared the gospel with him and told him about a hospital Graham’s ministry, Samaritan’s Purse, helped build in southern Sudan.
Seven times the government tried to bomb the hospital but missed every time, Graham said. When Graham brought up the bombings in their meeting, the Sudanese leader laughed and promised to make Graham a convert to Islam.
The Sudanese government planned to annihilate the church by the year 2000, but instead the church there doubled, Graham said.
“Friends, we must be a faithful witness in the things God calls us to do.”
Graham told messengers of a Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) program to train and certify children to be evangelists to their schools. If a youngster completes the training, he or she will receive a card certifying their training.
“I want to see child, at least one child, in every classroom in every public school in America who is a witness for Jesus Christ. Let’s not surrender the public schools; let’s take them back,” Graham said, drawing loud applause.
“I believe the Lord of Lords and King of Kings is coming soon. ? I must tell them the truth because this is heaven or hell.”