Reflection Masthead
Issue 169 - Billy Graham - February 2018

Billy Graham Wisdom Quote:
Billy Graham

A Lasting Legacy
It was in Cincinnati in the late 1970s. Billy Graham was preaching to a packed coliseum when the public-address system picked up a few seconds of the transmission from a passing CB radio. Graham paused, then said, "Sounds like we've got another preacher in here. Who knows? He might be better than the one you've got." With calm self-assurance and self-deprecating humor, Graham completely recaptured the attention of an audience that had been totally distracted just a moment earlier.
I was a young preacher, serving my first congregation at the time. I don't remember anything else Billy Graham said that evening, but I learned a great lesson about composure in the pulpit from a master communicator.
I was there because the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association offered full scholarships to pastors to come and attend training during his crusades. As I recall, there was no cost (perhaps a modest registration fee) for hotels and several days of workshops, some of which were excellent. For all the kind words said about Billy Graham since his death, I have heard little - too little - about his efforts as an encourager of others and a builder of institutions.
As a young man, Graham led in founding the magazine, Christianity Today, which became, and remains, a responsible voice for thoughtful conservative Christians. Later, at a time when "televangelist" was becoming a tainted word because of the lavish lifestyles of some TV preachers, Graham lent his efforts to establishing the Evangelical Council for Fiscal Accountability, a group that grants its seal of approval only to organizations that practice sound fiscal management and ethical accountability.
Billy Graham made his share of mistakes, from praise for Richard Nixon to harsh words about homosexuals. As I grew older, my theology moved further away from his. But I agree with Martin Marty, who once wrote that the most important distinction between church leaders was not that between liberal and conservative, it was the distinction between mean and not-mean. Billy Graham was not mean. While firm in his own beliefs, he reached out to work with many with whom he did not see eye-to-eye. The church has lost not only a master communicator, but a generous spirit.
Billy Graham once said that he was concerned about only one accolade: that after his death, he would hear his Savior say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant." May it be so.
                                                                    ~ Bill
The Crusades
       "How Billy Graham Changed my Life" - his "powerful presence, full of kindness and grace, and a keen mind." 1 Those are the words of just one man, George W. Bush, but there might be thousands and thousands who could write their testimony to Reverend Billy Graham and his influence on their life. He was truly one of the greatest persons who ever walked this earth, drawing crowds up to a million-strong to hear him preach the word of Jesus Christ.
       I grew up listening to Billy Graham on the radio, "The Hour of Decision" and later watching his crusades on TV. I grew to trust him and through him, to trust his message of God's love. He seemed, to me, to walk the talk. Although he was not universally beloved (who was?), he spoke the words of Scripture with conviction and integrity. One who practiced what he preached, he appeared on Gallop's "Most Admired Men in the World" 59 times, rather than on scandal sheets. As one reporter from USA Today writes, "He was the evangelist who did not rip off millions (Jim Bakker) or run with prostitutes (Jimmy Swaggart) or build a megachurch (Joel Osteen) or run for president (Pat Robertson) or run a Christian political lobby (Jerry Falwell)." 2 Yet, many presidents, respected statesmen, and famous people around the globe turned to him for advice and inspiration.
       Just being in his presence was inspiring, memorable, and yes, life-changing. I was asked to serve on the local team hosting him at the 1997 South Texas Billy Graham Crusade at the Alamodome, recording a cumulative attendance of 247,500. On the final night of the Crusade I was back stage during the opening prayers and praise music. The music stopped. There was a penetrating silence in the Alamodome. From the darkness behind the curtain, with no introduction, Billy Graham walked into the lights amid a roar of applause and spoke a word of gratitude to God in prayer. I can just imagine that's the way it was last Wednesday when Billy Graham walked into the light, approached his Lord and Master, amid cheers from the chorus of witnesses, and spoke praise and gratitude to God, face to face. May he rest in peace.     --Jan 

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Copyright (c) 2018 Soul Windows Ministries


Bill Howden and Jan Davis
Soul Windows Ministries