When I was saved in August of 1972, Billy Graham was still in his prime. One of the first Christian books I read was Peace with God written by Graham, which taught the basic fundamentals of Christianity and the Gospel. The book helped me to understand doctrinally the new birth, which I had experienced at the Burger King in Terre Haute, IN. I usually watched his city-wide crusades with my mother on TV.
His radio program, the Hour of Decision, played Sunday night on the radio. One Sunday night driving home from a small country Assembly of God Church, where I had been a guest speaker, Billy was teaching over the radio on the subject of the Trinity. It was that night that I came to an understanding that Jesus was God manifested in the flesh. Graham’s emphasis on Christianity being a decision, was key to my later acceptance of the teachings of Charles Finney and Moral Government Theology. Sin is a selfish decision; following Jesus is a righteous decision.
A few years after my conversion I was asked to give the testimony at a Billy Graham Crusade conducted by one of his assistant evangelists. As I recall his name was White. Of course, I accepted the invitation. I was first told I would have 10 minutes. A week before the Crusade I received a call that I would only have 5 minutes.
Upon my arrival on the night of the Crusade, I was informed I only had three minutes. Whenever, I am asked to speak, I am careful about not exceeding my allotted time. In this case I was wondering if maybe they were cutting back on my time out of concern for what I might say, since I was already becoming somewhat of a controversial figure around the state. I learned how to testify in a preaching style. I limited my testimony to the three minutes; as I spoke I heard one of the pastors sitting on the platform say to another, “He’s not testifying; he is preaching.” I am not sure whether the pastor meant it in a critical or complementary sense.
Billy’s invitations to accept Christ as Savior were backed by the community choir singing, “Just As I Am,” which became the title of his autobiography, which I also read. Recently, “the whippersnappers” have been attacking me for being ecumenical. Billy Graham had whippersnappers who condemned him for directing those who made a decision in his crusades to return to their church, even if it was Catholic. I fully expect to see Billy in Heaven, whose one plea must be, “Thy blood was shed for me.”
Well done, Billy, carry on Franklin…