Christianity said good-bye to a great preacher today – Feb 21, 2018. Billy Graham passed at 99 years. You know the name Billy Graham from the crusades he held and you might wonder if those had any lasting value. Here’s my story….
When I was a freshman in college I took a speech class. I was terrible. I was shy, awkward, embarrassed and couldn’t speak out. In an attempt to improve, I watched Billy Graham crusades on TV. I figured if he could hold thousands of people in his attention, perhaps he could help me fumble my way through a speech in front of 30 people.
I began to watch Billy Graham as a amateur public speaking critique. I soon began watching Billy Graham as a hard-hearted sinner who was intrigued by his message about Jesus. I had never heard the gospel before and this man was amazing. He spoke with a calm confidence about my standing with God. How did he know? He said God sent Jesus into the world to die for my sins. “Could this be true?” I wondered.
One night, Billy told this riveting story. He was in some far-off part of the world and was given a tour of the city by the local mayor. They walked onto a beach and the mayor described a tsunami that had devastated their town. Billy looked at me through the TV and said this is what I told the mayor – “Those waves pounded your shores and took the lives of unsuspecting people who had no idea that would stand before God that day. If you died this very hour, would you be ready to stand before almighty God?”
I turned the TV off. That was too convicting. I didn’t like to think about dying. I really didn’t like to think about standing before God. I stopped watching Billy Graham, but I couldn’t stop thinking about that story and his question about standing before God. Time passed. A year or two later I began to search for God in the Bible and Church. As best as I can recall my journey to the cross of Jesus Christ began with Billy Graham.
A few years after becoming a Christian, Billy Graham came to town. I was living in Kent, WA and he held a crusade in the new Tacoma Dome. My Church put out a plea for counselors to work at the Crusade so I signed on. I mumbled something to myself about giving back. I attended the training, heard great talks, memorized Scriptures, and got caught up in the joy of evangelism. At the conference, I was able to pray with some people to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord. Plus, I got to hear Billy Graham live.
I was hooked. Not long after I made way to California where I began the transition from business to ministry. To be clear, Billy Graham did not change my life but God changed my life in part, through the ministry of Billy Graham. I will be forever grateful that I took that crummy speech class which lead me to Billy Graham who helped introduce me to Jesus.