Much has been written and said about the Rev. Billy Graham in the days since he finished his earthly race on the morning of Feb. 21 and made his entrance into heaven to be with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Like so many others, I have enjoyed the many tributes that have been shared about Graham in recent days and along with you, I have prayed that God would use these news stories to help many more people come to faith in Christ. We will never forget this choice servant of God, and his influence will continue to impact our evangelism efforts.
Let me share with you how the story of Billy Graham’s walk with Christ began. The supreme importance of prayer in our evangelism efforts is illustrated in how a group of Christian businessmen in the Charlotte area prayed together for months in 1934 that God would send revival in their city, across their state and to the ends of the earth. Billy Graham’s father was a part of that prayer group. On one occasion when the men gathered for another all day prayer meeting in a pasture on the Graham farm, a paper salesman named Vernon Patterson suggested they add a bold new prayer, that God would raise up someone from out of Charlotte who would preach the gospel to the ends of the earth. They invited an evangelist named Mordecai Ham to come and lead a series of revival meetings. It was during one these revival services that a 15-year-old boy named Billy Graham was saved and became a follower of Christ.
Only God could take a humble farm boy from Charlotte, N.C., and use him to boldly proclaim the gospel to millions of people all around the world. Throughout his ministry, Graham humbly remained true and faithful to the gospel. Billy Graham believed that his primary purpose in life was to help people come to a personal relationship with God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Because he understood the vital importance of discipleship, Graham and his organization worked with local churches and ministries, like the Navigators, during his crusades to help ensure that those who responded to the gospel invitation were then connected to a local church for follow-up and discipleship.
Billy Graham was also a man of biblical conviction who stood true to the Word of God. Graham always sought to apply the scriptures to various social issues of the day.
Graham recognized that all people are made in the image of God and argued that racism and segregation were unbiblical and contrary to God’s character. In his later years, Graham continued to uphold a biblical view of marriage as being between one man and one woman for life.
Graham often spoke of how he longed to be in heaven with Jesus. Now he is there, in the presence of his Savior and reunited with his wife, Ruth, other family members and beloved friends from his original evangelism team like T.W. and Grady Wilson and Cliff Barrows.
Only in eternity will we truly know the extent to which God used Graham to lead countless numbers of people around the world to accept God’s gift of eternal life.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” – 2 Timothy 4:7.