“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,” – Billy Graham at his final Crusade in June 2005 at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in New York.
In 1934, at a revival led by traveling evangelist Mordecai Fowler Ham, 15-year-old Billy Graham committed his life to serving Jesus Christ. No one was more surprised than Graham himself.
“I was opposed to evangelism,” he said. “But finally, I was persuaded by a friend [to go to a meeting]…and the spirit of God began to speak to me as I went back night after night. One night, when the invitation was given to accept Jesus, I just said, ‘Lord, I’m going.’ I knew I was headed in a new direction.”
Billy Graham held his first official evangelistic Crusade in 1947; but it was his 1949 Los Angeles Crusade that captured the nation’s attention. Originally scheduled to run for three weeks, the “tent meetings” were extended for a total of eight weeks as hundreds of thousands of men, women and children gathered to hear Graham’s messages.
I was born in 1957. I am a poster-child Baby Boomer. For my generation, Gen X’ers, Millennials, and what some are calling the Silent Generation … Billy Graham has had a cultural “presence” our entire life.
My Billy Graham Story
I placed my faith in Jesus as an 8 year old at Hume Lake Christian Center. In the summer of 1972, Campus Crusade for Christ (now Cru) held a student congress in Dallas, Texas called Explo ’72. It was the summer before my sophomore year of High School and I begged my Mom and Dad to let me go. Would you let a 15-year old adolescent travel half way across the country? They said, “We’re going to let you go … and we’ll pay for two of your friends to go with you.” Their decision changed my life. That summer Dave Edwards, Roger Kemp and I boarded a bus in Fullerton, California and headed for Dallas. The week long conference was filled with training seminars on discipleship and evangelism in venues all across the metroplex. Each night was capped off with a giant gathering of High School and College students at the Cotton Bowl.
On the final night of Explo ’72, 80,000 students packed the Cotton Bowl with a sense of expectation for what the speaker would share. The speaker was Billy Graham. He passionately declared the gospel and extended an opportunity for those who didn’t know Christ to place their faith in Jesus. But Billy Graham didn’t stop there. He issued a call for everyone in the Cotton Bowl that night to commit themselves to full-time Christian ministry. He charged those 80,000 representatives of their generation to take up the cause of Christ and give their lives to the advancement of His gospel and His Kingdom. I stood up that night with tens of thousands of students, my two friends included, and committed myself to serving Christ no matter the cost. God used Billy Graham to galvanize my calling to be a minister of the gospel.
Today, February 21, 2018, Billy Graham stepped into the presence of the One he had been pointing people to for over 75 years. He shed the hindrances of our fallen world and is more alive now that any of us can possibly imagine. -Tracy Weaver
When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” – 1 Corinthians 15:54