God used Billy Graham to change my life. As I reflect back, Billy Graham was one of the top 5 people that had a dramatic influence over me.
This man inspired me greatly. He was a shining example of someone who dedicated his life to reaching people who were searching for real and lasting hope.
In many ways, he motivated me to spend my whole life reaching out to hurting teenagers and young adults.
I had the distinct privilege of meeting Billy Graham on a couple of occasions. One time when I was very young and another when I was starting my own ministry.
Last week at the age of 99 Billy Graham passed on to heaven. He is famously quoted throughout his life as saying, “My home is in heaven. I’m just passing through this world.” So we rejoice that he is now home with Jesus. As Billy Graham is laid to rest, I pause to reflect on my great memories of meeting my hero.
But first, let us remember who Billy Graham is…
Billy Graham’s Message
Billy Graham was a very influential evangelist and preacher in America. He held large indoor and outdoor rallies calling people to a relationship with Jesus Christ. His sermons were broadcast nationally on radio and television, beginning in the 1940’s until 2005 when he retired. He preached to live audiences of over 210 million people in more than 185 countries.
“Billy Graham pursued a singular vision—to share the love of Jesus Christ with all who would listen. In doing so he has met with Presidents, kings, queens, celebrities, and everyday men, women, and children. No matter his audience, the message is still the same. “Everywhere I go I find that people … both leaders and individuals … are asking one basic question,” Billy Graham has said. “‘Is there any hope for the future?’ My answer is the same, ‘Yes, through Jesus Christ.’” Billy Graham Library
Billy Graham’s message never changed. It is a simple message, but one that comes straight from God’s Word. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). A message of God’s love, God’s forgiveness, and God’s salvation through Jesus Christ.
To learn more about his message watch this: A Tribute to Billy Graham
My Personal Memories of Meeting Billy Graham
The first time I had an encounter with Billy Graham, I was but 10 years old and our whole family attended one of his crusades in a stadium in Minneapolis.
Once the crusade was over, he stepped off the stage and was heading for the exit. Several hundred people and I had the same idea, to shake Billy Graham’s hand. When I got within a few feet of him, people were surrounding him, wanting an autograph or to have Billy pray for them. I just wanted a handshake, so I finally grabbed Billy’s hand even as the crowd continued to grow. He drug me several feet before I let go. I’ll never forget that day, the day Billy Graham sort of shook my hand.
On Stage with Billy Graham
Years later, I was working in youth ministry in Southern California and Billy Graham was coming to town. I worked hard to spread the word about the Billy Graham crusade, encouraging teenagers and young adults to attend. I was invited to sit on the stage during the event. Before it began, Billy came over to me, reached out his hand for a handshake and thanked me for all the work I had done for teenagers. I was blown away by this meeting. He was a shy man with intense humble eyes.
I was sitting no more than 10 feet from Dr. Graham as he preached, right next to one of his personal aids. During his rally, the aid leaned over and said, “Did you know that Dr. Graham stepped on a bar of soap this afternoon and cracked 3 ribs?” He went on to say, “Billy is wearing a bullet proof vest and is in much pain.” I watched him as he preached. You could tell he was hurting, but he made it through the sermon. When the alter call started, thousands of people walked to the stage to accept Jesus Christ as Lord of their life. I thought, “What a man, preaching in pain and look at the results.” It was a once in a lifetime experience I will never forget.
Our friend and recording artist, Lacey Sturm, shares her tribute to Billy Graham in this video. His message touched so many!
Billy Graham…What a man! What a ministry!
If you are interested in learning more about where Billy Graham, Lacey Sturm and I all find our hope. Please download this free eBook Understanding a Relationship with God.