No one knows the miles he traveled, the burdens the bore, the fatigue he felt, or the souls who came to Christ because of his clarion voice. He was a hero and a mentor to me – from a distance. When I was a boy, my parents gathered our family to watch his televised crusades. While in college, I had the opportunity of working as a gofer for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and I realized the men I admired from afar, including Dr. Graham himself, were sincere and gracious up close. They loved Jesus Christ and were committed to Him with all their hearts. They sacrificed their lives to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth. It wasn’t glamorous for them; it was rugged, draining work. These men became my models in ministry; and now an era has ended.
On several occasions I had the joy of meeting Dr. Graham. The first time was at his home when I was in college. I was visiting with his wife, Ruth, who was very dear to me. Billy was there in the den with T. W. Wilson, but I was too overwhelmed to say anything more than the weather was nice that day, to which he pleasantly agreed. Later when I worked in the crusades, I had various moments to shake his hand and speak with him. Since I’ve been at Donelson, Katrina and I have occasionally been in the same room with him. Our last visit was when Dr. Graham came to the Cove in Asheville on a night I was preaching there. He stayed in the green room until I finished then came out and “stole the show.” He was in a wheelchair and so was Katrina. When I pushed her up to speak to him I got their wheelchairs tangled up. The next thing I knew I was on hands and knees, mortified in front of a large crowd, moving their respective tennis shoes and trying to unhook their footpads. But he simply smiled and chatted. We truly loved him. When I awoke my wife, Katrina, this morning with the news of his passing, she cried and cried; and she reminded us both how much he must have longed for heaven at the end.
Now we need another Billy Graham! May the Lord raise up another man like him who can reach a new generation with the power of a Whitefield, a Wesley, a Moody, a Graham
If you’ve never read Dr. Graham’s autobiography, Just As I Am, I suggest starting it at once. His simple yet powerful story will astound you. It will inspire you to serve the Lord with sweetness, zeal, and courage.
We miss you, Billy! Thank you for touching the world — and so many of us — for the cause of the cross of Christ.