So many tributes have already poured in at the passing of Billy Graham. Everyone from large church pastors and politicians to celebrities and world leaders have made statements. I recently saw Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s very gracious comments. It reminded me of the broad ministry this one man had been given.
For my part, I thought not of the world leaders, but the millions of people who came to saving faith in Jesus through his evangelistic rallies. As I considered it, I thought of some of the people that I personally knew who came to faith. Years ago, my wife encountered a woman from a very secular background. Kathy took her to one of the Billy Graham movies that were quite popular at the time. In the middle of the movie, they showed an actual Billy Graham crusade, and Kathy’s friend started weeping. She said she did not know how beautiful a call to Christ was. With that, she herself bowed her head and accepted Jesus as her Saviour and Lord.
I have my own personal memory of this very thing. I planted a church a number of years ago. One of the men who formed the core group of that church had recently been saved at a Billy Graham evangelistic rally in Vancouver. He told me that he had gone to the rally, but was determined not to go to the front when the altar call was given. But his young son was with him. As the altar call was given, his son took his hand and said, “Dad, you’ve got to go to the front.” My friend told me he wasn’t going to go. His son began crying and pulling his hand and saying, “Dad, we’ve got to go to the front.” And so, both himself and his son in tears, he went to the front, surrendering his life to Jesus as Saviour and Lord.
As I have thought about these stories, it has occurred to me that most of us know someone who came to Christ through the ministry of Billy Graham. I can think of no greater enduring legacy than the millions of men and women who are now walking in joyful confidence in Christ because they heard one of Billy Graham’s simple messages, and then responded to his invitation.
Of course, like all of us, Billy Graham had his flaws and failures. But the legacy that should be remembered is that most of us know someone who came to faith through one man’s preaching of Christ crucified for our sins. After 99 years, God has called His servant home. And we are thankful.