Earlier this week the most well-known preacher in American history passed away at the age of 99. While lots of people are publishing blogs on the heroics of his life or the errors of his doctrine, I want to keep this post simple, yet personal. I’m well aware of the controversies surrounding his ministry, particularly his ecumenical view of Protestants and Catholics, and I’m well aware of the dangers of the sinner’s prayer that was the capstone of his preaching, nor do I particularly care for the phrase “America’s Pastor”, but I’m also well aware that when I was 5 years old, I watched a televised broadcast of a Billy Graham Crusade and trusted Christ as my Savior right then and there.
Billy Graham looked like my grandfather and preached with fire. It still amazes me the number of people that would fill stadiums around this country to hear him preach. If that weren’t enough, his crusades were broadcast on prime-time, national television. Think about that for a minute. They weren’t broadcast on an obscure religious channel. They were broadcast on national television.Every.Time.
As in the video below, after Billy Graham’s preaching there was the familiar “Just as I am” and a call to come forward to accept Christ. While I may disagree with the method, and I’ve read plenty disparaging those who would pray with people that came forward, it is still simply remarkable that after hearing a largely gospel-filled message (as the one below), that literally hundreds of people would come forward. We will never know how many were actually saved, but how much would we give today to hear someone preach the gospel publicly to tens of thousands, even broadcast nationally, and then see hundreds respond in a profession of faith.
Despite areas that I might disagree with, the things that I’ve written here over a decade, the preaching and teaching I’ve been allowed to do, the witnessing, my own salvation, and the salvation of my children are fruit of Billy Graham’s ministry. I’m just one person in Appalachia writing in an obscure corner of the internet. How many others can claim a similar testimony, owing to God’s grace working through the ministry of Billy Graham?
For more on Billy Graham’s legacy see here: Three Lessons from the Example of Billy Graham
“As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:5