We have the privilege of visiting some of the churches in the southern US that have partnered with us in the gospel vision for the Maritimes. These churches, along with many others, have made our church-planting endeavours possible. We continually marvel and give thanks for their commitment to praying regularly for the work in the Atlantic provinces, for joining us in special missions’ work, and their financial contributions. We have made some wonderful connections with truly beautiful people. We are blessed to finally meet some of these folks face-to-face and reconnect with those who have ministered alongside us in Canada.
We flew into Charlotte, North Carolina on the day of the funeral for beloved evangelist, Billy Graham. What a sad day for the world as he passed from this world to the next; but, what a glorious day for him! I can only imagine the rejoicing in heaven, as he joins many who were brought to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ through his ministry, worshiping the Lord in His very presence!
The Billy Graham Library was closed for a few days following the funeral; we had the opportunity to visit it when it reopened. May I just say that I am so glad we did, and if ever you have an opportunity, see it for yourself. It is an emotional journey through this place, so be forewarned. I imagine many people have a story about his impact on their Christian walk.
We were taken on a trek through his life with media clips and memorabilia and re-creations.
This is the story of a man sold out for Jesus.
Billy Graham was saved in 1934, just before he turned sixteen, at a gospel meeting that forever changed his life and, I daresay, the lives of many North Americans and the world. Who knew that on that day, an extraordinary evangelist and pastor to presidents, royalty and the average Joe was born.
One of the most impactful stories was his struggle when some friends challenged him on the inerrancy of the Bible, presenting the concept that the Bible was, perhaps, outdated and flawed. Billy had accepted the authority of God’s Word, but he wanted to be convinced, otherwise, what was the point of preaching the Word? He was at Forest Home Christian Camp in California where Henrietta Mears (one of the founders of the camp), a godly woman, counselled him about this matter. Billy went to a quiet place in the woods, laid his Bible on a stump and cried out to the Lord to convince him the truth of the inerrancy of His Word.
“O God! There are many things in this book I do not understand. There are many problems with it for which I have no solution. There are many seeming contradictions. There are some areas in it that do not seem to correlate with modern science. I can’t answer some of the philosophical and psychological questions Chuck and others are raising.”*
He felt the moving of the Holy Spirit.
“Father, I am going to accept this as Thy Word—by faith! I’m going to allow faith to go beyond my intellectual questions and doubts, and I will believe this to be Your inspired Word!”**
The rest, as they say, is history. The following day, he spoke with authority to those at Forest Home Camp and many people gave their lives to the Lord. Isn’t that awesome?! He honestly laid his struggles before the Lord, trusted Him beyond the limits of his finite mind, by faith carried on and the Lord gave him certainty and used him mightily.
You cannot help but notice the recurring theme of the cross. You enter the Billy Graham Library through a large, cross-shaped entrance. He used the cross as a reminder that one enters eternal life only through the cross of Jesus Christ.
Many who were touched by his ministry gave him gifts reflecting the preciousness of the cross.
What was my overall take-away?
I was challenged. Am I living a life sold out for Jesus? Would I meet people in heaven whose lives were transformed because I’d shown them Jesus?
I was inspired. If God could use a farm-boy to reach millions, he could use me, too! I was reminded of the deep importance of Christ giving Himself freely and wholly on the cross in my place.
I was reminded to be honest with God–take my struggles to Him.
I was also reminded of the importance of ‘redeeming the time’. Christ died on the cross, just as He said. Christ rose again on the third day, just as He said. Christ will come again, just as He said. A lost and dying world needs a preacher, someone to show them the way to Jesus. Romans 10:14 tells us, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” Each believer is commissioned to ‘go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature’ (Mark 16:15). I may not have opportunities of such magnitude as Billy Graham, but God can use me, right where I am. He can use you, right where you are. It is our duty and our privilege.
If you are reading this and you don’t know Jesus in a personal way, may I urge you to consider the One who loved you so much that He died in your place?
See You Can Have a Home in Heaven if you’d like to know more about how you can be saved.
*The Tree Stump Prayer, billygraham.org
**Just as I Am, Billy Graham, 1997