Today, you will read many things about Billy Graham. Greater writers and more famous voices than I will pay tribute to this singular man sent by God. I have chosen a different path for my words about him.
I will leave it to the more qualified to astound you by recounting the achievements of this evangelist of evangelists. Let me take you on another course…
In front of a barn in the middle of nowhere, a group of farmers met to pray. One of them spoke up and said, “I don’t know why but I believe that from this spot, the Gospel will go around the world.” Not far away, a little skinny boy did his chores—his name was Billy Graham.
In that day, Mortdecai Ham blazed a trail of revival. His fiery sermons electrified vast audiences. Yet, one of his crusades was a devastating disappointment. This entry was in his diary: “This week only 2 souls were saved.” One of them was a 12-year-old Billy Graham.
My soul drew a strange comfort every year that Billy Graham was kept alive. He was the Christian father praying for a wayward nation. He was the national pastor whose very presence made me feel that there was a hand of protection on America. He gave me hope that our nation could still repent.
I am choking back tears of sadness and dread. Does his departure signal the fact that we have finally crossed the deadline? Or does his entrance into heaven mean a fresh mantle of soul winning will fall to many men and women. Everything in me screams “LORD LET IT BE THE LATTER!”
Thank God we have a president who will honor Billy Graham. Thank God, that the many angry and hateful voices, who would strip America of every last semblance of Christ, will be forced to relive the miracle of a country boy, with a simple message who spoke about Jesus to more people face to face, than anyone in history.
Thank God that perhaps, today’s preachers will get a lesson.
I was a little brother to the great evangelist scandals of the 1980’s. I remember how the most popular magazine of the day posted a gallery of well-known evangelists. Under each picture was a list of their sins. The last picture was of Billy Graham with this caption underneath: Above Reproach.
Many young preachers learned nothing about integrity from those scandals. Instead of fearing God and humbling themselves they invented new ways to express pride and materialism. They lust for best sellers and mansions.
What they never got—and still do not have—is the impact on society of a Billy Graham.
One simple example is when he toured the eastern bloc nations. Not long after his crusades, the Soviet Union broke apart. A careful look shows the first nations to discard communism were the same places where this man of God preached. Impact not popularity. Get it?
Maybe you can see today—my dear brother—how much more he would have said to Oprah than you did.
Our loss stings. Perhaps the sting is divine. Let preachers feel it. Let them see how thundering the Cross, the Blood, repentance, and hell, filled the largest stadiums in the world. It can again.
The word paragon is an interesting word. It means a model of excellence. A towering, convicting, awe-inspiring paragon of evangelism has gone to heaven.