As most people probably know, Reverend Billy Graham died last week, and his memorial was just held in Washington DC. My hubby and I just watched a pretty good documentary the other night that detailed his life and impressive ministry — I didn’t know too much about him other than he was a preacher who had been in ministry for a long time! By the time I was old enough to be aware, he was already an old man and the majority of his traveling ministries had been completed. I once went to his crusade with his son Franklin in Baltimore when I still lived there and have read some of his writings, but that is about the extent of my knowledge. I guess in my head, he belonged to my parent’s and grandparent’s generations and so was not as relevant for me.
Coincidentally, I recently watched the episode of The Crown where Queen Elizabeth invited Reverend Graham to preach and to visit with her. I know that those scenes were largely fictionalized, but if I’m honest, I never even realized he traveled so extensively overseas and met with kings and queens and diplomats and became a trusted friend and advisor to many of them – what a platform for the gospel! As I saw him through new eyes, I realized that even if he was a man from a previous generation, his approach and his message are timeless.
We can’t idolize him since he was a human with faults just like the rest of us, but it is commendable and inspiring how Billy Graham dedicated his full life in complete service to God – he didn’t set out to seek fame, he just wanted to share the gospel. His approach was simple – every man, woman, and child deserved the same message and all were important in God’s eyes. Obviously, I haven’t listened to all of his sermons, or read all of his notes, but it seems like during his crusades, his message was first and foremost just about love and about the marvelous gift that we were given in the person of Christ. And with this simple approach and unfailing commitment to the truth of the gospel, Billy Graham reached MILLIONS of people for Christ. Just think of how many people are in heaven because of his obedience!
I don’t think we are all called to be Billy Grahams and share the gospel on the world stage, but we do all need to be faithful to the call on our lives as he was. God told all of us to go out into the world to share the gospel and make disciples. Luke 15:10 says “…there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” The angels rejoice when a sinner repents – every single one, no matter if they were a part of a group of hundreds that went forward at an altar call, or if they were led to Christ in a 1 on 1 setting. If we each did our part in making disciples, there would be a greater amount of rejoicing in heaven!
I met a lady in the park the other day when I was out with the babies, and instantly she started telling me about how she is able to come out to play with her kids because God had healed her! I had never met her, we didn’t have any conversation before this other than saying something about how the weather was so nice for February – we were different ages, different ethnicities, and English was not her first language. Yet, that did not stop her from stopping me to talk and to share her story with me. As she talked, I agreed with her that God was the great healer and that prayer is so powerful, and she stopped and looked at me and asked if I was a believer? When I said yes, she said “Well then you are my sister in Christ! Amen! God bless you!” It was such an awesome little interaction, but the more I thought about it, what struck me was that before she knew I was a fellow believer, she was fearless in sharing her testimony with a perfect stranger, who, from looks alone, was very different from her. She told me that she just wanted to tell everyone because God had done so much for her! I was so proud to be a sister in Christ and at the same time so ashamed that I am often so reluctant to speak openly and without fear about my God and what he has done for me. How many little opportunities just like that have I let slip by?
When I was watching the documentary on Billy Graham’s crusades, it was amazing to see the amount of people who were interested in learning about God and flocked to hear his message of love and forgiveness and hope. It saddens me that it seems our country has gotten away from that. These days its clear that we can still be whipped into a frenzy and come out in droves but its more often for sporting events or to see a celebrity or, lately, to protest something. We still desperately need the hope that Jesus offers…maybe now more than ever with our children being murdered in schools, our police men and women being terrorized while serving us selflessly, and so many other scary things happening daily around the world that have become commonplace. I wonder exactly what we need to spark a revival now? What will it take to have our country seek God again?