Billy Graham

cffblog6.jpgJanuary 19, 2018 (Friday)

I had heard of Billy Graham for many years, but only once had seen him in person at the old Houston Coliseum, viewing him from a seat far away from the pulpit as he preached. I recall the white shoes and red tie he wore; I was so far away that's about all I could really see. The next time I saw him in 1964 I was much closer, seated close to the pulpit in the old Atlantic City Auditorium, celebrating the Jubilee year of Baptists with my friends. I heard my friend say, "there he is." "Yes, that's him," was the reply. I looked over to the side of the rostrum where two men had met him to escort him to the podium. My first impression: tall! He stood head and shoulders above his greeters. Handsome! Perfectly groomed. Just like his pictures. Impressive. Without having said a word, you could feel the energy in the crowd at the mere sight of him.

The first time I saw him on TV was in a broadcast of "Meet the Press" in 1955, when the format included a panel of reporters and one guest. I was impressed that his anwers and responses included his personal testimony of being saved by the Lord Jesus Christ. Again and again he gave an account of his coming to Christ and finding a sense of belonging through faith in Him. At the end of the program as the reporters shared their impressions, each of them was surprisingly positive about this new evangelist.

Now in his nineties, he has "run his race," and awaits his call to Heaven. He leaves behind a record of honesty and integrity, a history of visits with kings, queens, presidents, the pope and dignitaries the world over.

His influence is felt in the lives of countless believers, 3.2 million of whom accepted Christ during his crusades. Has he influenced my preaching? Yes, he has. He has set an example for preachers to get to the cross and personal salvation as soon as possible when preaching. His years on the radio disciplined him to make his sermons "short and sweet," never filling in with boring talk. That has most certainly influenced me to get to the point in my preaching and don't take too long.

He definitely is one of a kind. He has preached to more people personally than any other person in history. And they all heard about salvation in Jesus Christ.



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