Evangelist Franklin Graham is using Hawaii’s horrifying nuclear scare to ignite a meaningful conversation with Americans about eternity, asking: “What would you do if you only had 20 minutes to live?”
As many news agencies reported Saturday, a Hawaii state official issued a false warning about an incoming ballistic missile. The alert scared Hawaiians for a full 38 minutes before the state issued a correction.
Thousands of Hawaii residents and tourists panicked and took cover. Children were seen entering manholes. Cars ripped through streets at eye-popping speeds. Stores closed their doors to people desperately seeking shelter. One man suffered a massive heart attack.
Fortunately, the missile alert was a false alarm.
But a terrorizing experience like that tends to get people thinking – about priorities, about life, even about eternal salvation.
And Graham attempted to do just that in a thought-provoking Facebook post on Jan. 14.
“A friend of mine in Hawaii said he ran to the window to see everyone running off the golf course, and then he sat in front of the television,” said Graham, who is CEO of both the Samaritan’s Purse worldwide ministry and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. “I read about another man who got in the bathtub with his family and prayed.”
But after several minutes, the people in Hawaii learned it was a false alarm.
“What would you do if you only had 20 minutes to live?” Graham asked.
“Would you call on the name of God?” Graham continued. “Would you ask forgiveness for your sins? Would you contact your loved ones? Would you drink a Coke?”
Graham encouraged his Facebook friends to share their thoughts on what they might do in those 20 minutes.
The response was near-unanimous. Nearly all respondents said they would immediately begin praying.
Some responses included:
- “I would fall to my knees and ask the Lord to help me through whatever was about to happen.” – Carol Waffel
- “Pray for God to save my soul.” – Patricia Ann Wright
- “I would call on God to ask for forgiveness and courage.” – Pamela Bennin
- “I’d being praying to Jesus to reveal anything that was lacking in my life that I needed to repent of within that 20 minutes.” – Luann Jackson
- “I would pray for [loved] ones who are not saved by the blood of Jesus Christ!” – Kathleen Fishero
- “Just like I did on 9/11, momentarily panic, then give it up to the Lord to handle and pray to prepare for whatever may come.” – Diane Belden-Rosenthal
- “Call everyone I know who has rejected Christ and tell them in 20 minutes you will reach your destination, heaven or hell. And hopefully they will accept Christ right then and there as their Lord and Savior.” – Shirley Souto
Just one day after the scare, a new survey revealed that even one in four atheists and agnostics resort to prayer when they’re faced with a crisis.