YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – His father, Billy Graham, traveled the world for 60 years but never stopped in Youngstown. Tuesday night, his son, Franklin Graham, brought the word of God downtown.
The Reverend Franklin Graham took the stage at the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre, one of just six stops on his “God Loves You” tour. Before preaching, he held a news conference backstage, saying it was his first ever visit to Youngstown.
“People, you know, talk about this being part of the Rust Belt and that sort of stuff. Well, if this is the Rust Belt, it’s a pretty part of the Rust Belt,” he said.
Franklin is the 70-year-old son of famous evangelist Billy Graham and has taken over where his father left off. Franklin even resembles his father.
“I think it’s the gray hair,” he said.
Billy left behind a legacy that will likely never be surpassed.
“He preached to more people, face-to-face, than any other person probably in history,” Franklin said.
But even though the face behind the Graham message was different, the message to the 3,500 people in attendance Tuesday night was not.
“You don’t change God’s message to fit the times. His message is the same — yesterday, today and a million years from now,” Franklin said.
Franklin says people need his message now because they’re dealing with high gas and food prices, along with shortages.
“People are just discouraged and I want people to know that God hasn’t turned his back on them,” he said.
Franklin shied away from discussing the 2024 presidential election, though he’s disappointed with the divide in American politics, saying it’s getting worse.
He says dealing with violent crime starts with the police.
“We’ve got to support the men and women in blue who defend us, who protect our streets, who keep us safe. Do they make mistakes? A few every now and then. but it’s very few. These are good men and women and we need to be backing them,” Franklin said.
When asked, why stop in Youngstown? Franklin said he tries to preach in cities where they’ve never been and because he thinks this area of Ohio needs this message. He said God just laid it on his heart to come.