Billy Graham: He was Called and So Are We
When I heard the news of Billy Graham’s passing, my heart rejoiced knowing Dr. Graham was finally in the arms of His Savior, seeing fully the One whom he served and loved his entire earthly life. I had an image of a long line of saints in Heaven ready to thank Billy Graham for sharing Jesus with them. Not the least, I thought of my grandmother, who even in the midst of dementia, at age 88 while watching a Billy Graham crusade on television started crying and said “Is it too late for me?” and we said, “Of course not.” She raised her hands and gave her life to Jesus in a moment of radiant lucidity. She is one of countless thousands who heard the good news through God’s faithful vessel, Billy Graham.
Like many growing evangelists, I was a student of Billy Graham’s watching his talks over and over again. For years I would even transcribe his talks and study them. I met and heard Billy Graham speak at Harvard University, and what was most evident was his humility and the simplicity of his message. He used clear language never seeking to sound clever. He stuck to the central message of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and always gave an invitation for people to enter into relationship with Jesus. Graham was God’s faithful servant knowing full well the power of his message was always in the strength of the Holy Spirit. It was never about Graham and always about Jesus.
I also thought today of McMakin (I don’t even know his first name), the evangelist Mordecai Ham, the pastor of the church who invited Mordecai Ham to do an evangelistic revival, the church committee that planned the Mordecai Ham revival, the volunteers who pitched the tent, unfolded the chairs, made the bulletins, the intercessors who prayed for weeks, and the greeter at the door. Billy Graham tells of how his friend McMakin who drove a milk truck invited him to his local church to hear the evangelist Mordecai Ham. Billy Graham did not want to go but McMakin said if he went, Graham could drive the milk truck so he agreed. The tent was packed and Graham and McMakin started to leave but the usher ran after them and made sure the two boys had a seat. Graham described his heart that night…“Our family’s Bible reading, praying, psalm-singing and church-going—all these had left me restless and resentful…In a word, I was spiritually dead…During the service, Ham invited people to come forward …I felt as if I had lead weights attached to my feet….But I was compelled to go forward. Although I felt no great emotion, I knew I was a new person. I went home and told my mother, ‘Mother, I’m a changed boy!’”
Yes indeed, some like Billy Graham, are gifted to be up front evangelists and ALL followers of Jesus are called to witness and to be part of sharing the good news. Jesus’ last words to his followers were this… “Now YOU will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth.” The Apostle Paul writes that every follower of Jesus is called to be His ambassador. (2 Corinthians 5:20) We all have a part to play. Yes the good news travels through gifted evangelists like Billy Graham but more than that… the world is changed through every day followers of Jesus sharing the hope that is within them. Just like the book of Acts, the message spread through the preaching of Peter and Paul AND especially through everyday believers sharing about the risen Jesus! The missionary D.T. Niles said, “evangelism is one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.” God calls on all of us to play our part in God’s plan to redeem the world. EVERY SINGLE FOLLOWER OF JESUS IS CALLED!