The news headlines were filled on February 21st 2018 with the death of the evangelist Billy Graham. He had lived a full 99 years and had changed thousands if not millions of lives – for the better and for God.
As part of his memorial arrangements, his body was taken to his home in Charlotte, North Carolina. As the coffin travelled, thousands of people lined the city streets and interstate freeways, not in mourning but in celebration of a man’s life. The crowds who came out in respect held up signs and bibles as the coffin passed. Check out his son, Franklin’s Facebook page for pictures.
For two days February 27th and 28th, his body lies in repose with a private funeral service held on March 2nd and streamlined across the world.
There is something completely different when people on earth rejoice that someone is going to heaven – perhaps it makes the angels glad that they can share with us in this transformation!
Billy Graham said that his one purpose in life was to help people find a personal relationship with God, which, he believed, comes through knowing Christ.
To have as single vision means that focus can be given entirely to it. Nothing is allowed to interfere and a life’s mission is based on it. This was the case for Billy Graham, enabling him to speak throughout the world. It is estimated that he has influenced more than 210 million people in over 185 nations.
In 1954 Billy Graham came to London and launched his worldwide ministry, the London campaign (or crusades as they became known) lasted 3 months here in Britain. More than 2 million people heard the series of sermons and thousands of people committing themselves to God.
His influence was great, and it is perpetuated by being passed on by others.
I didn’t come to faith through hearing Billy Graham preach, but by other influences – in the early days it was Rev Andrew Whitman and Rev Geoff Larcombe, who in turn had their own influencers.
Andrew Whitman talks about this time for him, which also has a link with Billy Graham:
“As you may know I’ve been researching my spiritual roots in the Jesus People Movement for quite a few years now… Personally I came to know Jesus in August 1973 through the Jesus Family’s “Lonesome Stone” multi-media rock musical in London.
In the early days in the USA there were very mixed reactions to this movement within the church-at-large.
To his great credit Billy Graham got behind it, although not in a naive way: he highlighted some pitfalls like superficiality, emotionalism, and a neglect of the established church…
However, at root he rejoiced at what God was doing in touching a lost generation (that included me!), and Billy Graham wrote the following in his 1971 book “The Jesus Generation”:
“I have become convinced that the ‘Jesus Revolution’ is making a profound impact on the youth of America and shows all signs of spreading to other countries. One thing is certain: Jesus Christ can no longer be ignored! Our generation cannot escape Him”.”
I believe, the final quote shows great leadership to give encouragement even when things are not done in your way!
Knowing about Billy Graham, albeit not directly, though other’s experiences, books, films and now into history is still incredible and I’m sure Billy Graham’s influence will continue.
In the meantime, who has been your ‘Billy Graham’?
Who was the forefather of your faith, the one who influenced you enough to:
- Pick up a Bible;
- Say, “I want to know more about God”, and:
- Allow Holy Spirit to change your life?
I am sure you have an incredible story. Your ‘Billy Graham’ may not have influenced millions of people, but they did influence YOU and God will bless them.
In time, you also can take your stand of being someone’s ‘Billy Graham’.
“I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it,
but it was God who made it grow”
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