Early Wednesday morning the news heralded Billy Graham had died at age 99. He had a key spiritual role in America as an evangelist for most of his life. He was a Southern Baptist evangelist who was propelled into the America eye by a national newspaper publisher William Hearst. He thought America needed to hear Graham’s message.
Graham also became pastor to twelve American presidents. When 9/11 hit, all civilian aircraft were grounded except Air Force One. However, there was a second plane that was allowed aloft; the plane that bore Billy Graham to the White House where he would pray for our president and country. It is said that during this time he led the President to Christ. He also helped Queen Elizabeth in a similar way earlier. God used him in unique ways.
Billy Graham had a role in my salvation as well. I had attended church all my life but never clearly understood the Gospel. I thought I was probably “good enough for heaven.” When I was an early teen my mother became very ill and began searching for God. I attended various churches with her and began to realize I was a sinner and that no amount of good works was enough. Then I heard Graham preach on TV and was drawn to his message. The Gospel was become clear to me. He was scheduled to have a Crusade at the Seattle World’s Fair in 1962 so I took the train to see my aunt and attend the Crusade at the Century 21 Exhibit. There in the shadow of the newly erected Space Needle Graham preached the gospel and I went forward in repentance and faith. What he said about Christ matched what I heard from other preachers.
The Spirit worked and I began reading my Bible and attending church with a desire to learn and grow. When I finished junior college, I attended Multnomah School of the Bible in Portland. At that time Graham had a crusade in Portland during which I was privileged to be a counselor. That was the last time I saw him in person. I’m so thankful for how God used him in my life.
Very few have the opportunity to witness to presidents and kings. But all believers have the simple gospel that can change lives. We should share it whenever possible. We never know who it will touch.
This Sunday I'll be back in Galatians 5 as we look at what it means to be set free in Christ. This is an important passage in understanding also how we are to live daily.