My husband, Bob, was pastoring South Lindsay Baptist Church in Oklahoma City in 2003 when the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association announced a Crusade scheduled for later that year. George Beverly Shea would be leading a massive choir for the event and requests were made for volunteers. I was so excited to have the opportunity to attend a Crusade and to participate in the worship and praise was such an honor. It was standing room only as the Crusade set an attendance record (29,000 in one night) for the then-newly opened Ford Center.
Today, Evangelist Billy Graham, whose ‘matchless voice changed the lives of millions’ passed away in his home in Montreat, North Carolina. William Franklin “Billy” Graham was born November 7, 1918. Graham was raised on a dairy farm in Charlotte. “Back then, “Billy Frank,” as he was called, preferred baseball to religion. ‘I detested going to church,’ he said when recalling his youth.” But in 1934, a friend persuaded him to attend a revival led by traveling evangelist Mordecai Ham and 15-year-old Graham committed his life to serving Jesus Christ.
Graham graduated from Florida Bible Institute (now Trinity College of Florida), and later, Wheaton College in Chicago. There he met and married Ruth McCue Bell, the daughter of medical missionaries in China, the summer of 1943. Graham began his ministry as a speaker for Youth for Christ and held his first evangelistic Crusade in 1947. The 1949 Los Angeles Crusade ran for eight weeks capturing the attention of hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children and that of the nation.
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association was incorporated in 1950 and since that time, Graham has preached to millions all over the globe with one message. “I have one message: that Jesus Christ came, he died on a cross, he rose again, and he asked us to repent of our sins and receive him by faith as Lord and Savior, and if we do, we have forgiveness of all of our sins.”
Best known for his evangelistic missions or Crusades, Graham also prayed with Presidents from Harry S. Truman to Barack Obama and was a ‘voice of hope and guidance in times of trial’.
Throughout his life, Graham lived as an ‘example of a follower of Jesus Christ. His integrity and bold faith is an inspiration to countless many. It is our prayer that the Lord will use his passing as a catalyst for revival and awakening in our world’.
“HE WHO HEARS MY WORD AND BELIEVES IN HIM WHO SENT ME … HAS PASSED FROM DEATH INTO LIFE” (JOHN 5:24 NKJV).