Billy Graham – The Passing of the Evangelist

 

With the passing of Billy Graham I have a sense of sadness and an unexplainable feeling of loss.

It feels if the world has reached a spiritual turning point and history is about to take a new turn.

I don’t claim to be a prophet nor the son of a prophet nor do I wish to add my voice to the proliferation of predictions by prophets and preachers that could feed the spiritual frenzy with futuristic apocalyptic promises.

In saying that I do not wish to be guilty of what the bible calls “despising prophecy.”

The significance and magnitude of the exposure in the secular media to the death of this humble preacher, his message of repentance and salvation in Jesus, has surprised me, coming in the midst of political chaos, confused morality, and violence.

For once there was “good news” and I hold to the promise of the “serpent on the pole ” that where Jesus is lifted up that men and women would be drawn unto Him.

As I have many many times in my lifetime, I, and many thousands of others responded with tears once again.

“Just as I am without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me, and that thou bid me come to Thee, O Lamb of God I come I come”.

Many of you reading this probable sang with tears as I did.

If you have not answered the call of Jesus to “come” I pray you will today.

As I watched and listened to the memorial “service of honor” as the Americans call it, I couldn’t help but be emotionally moved!

The outpouring of respect from the members of the American Congress and the Presidents office was remarkable.

The pall bearers were resplendent as they carried Billy Grahams casket to the centre of the historic US Rotunda.

Only three other civilians have been honoured in this way by the US Government in history.

Paul Ryan the Speaker of the House said of Graham, that lying in honor will be a fitting tribute to a man who advised 12 U.S. presidents and reached millions via radio, television and later the Internet.

He has preached in person to over 200 million people in his life time.

As I write this Saturday Evening Post of my recollections of the ministry and hero of the faith Evangelist Billy Graham I don’t want to prognosticate but simple share how he effected me.

I doubt if the world will ever see again the likes of Billy Graham, although I’m sure when Jesus returns the era of Billy Graham will fade into insignificance. 

I was a young fresh faced 20 year old Bible student studying for the ministry in the Commonwealth Bible College (now known as Alphacrucis College), when I was given the privilege of meeting Billy Graham.

I remember the ‘buzz’ that went around our dormitory when we heard that the Billy Graham team had arrived at the old Eagle Farm airport.

Thousands of christians were there to welcome him in the old aircraft hangar of that era.

The excitement amongst us students in college was palpable as he was seen as the champion of the Church.

I first heard him preach on the beach at Greenmount on the Gold Coast one Saturday afternoon in 1959.

I was attending a camp with other college students at Burleigh Heads, when we heard that Billy Graham was on the coast and was going to preach at Greenmount beach.

I will never forget it as thousands of beach goers and swimmers stood in the open air on the sand and listened intently as Billy Graham addressed them in his own inimitable way.

Through a makeshift PA system he stood on the old balcony of the Greenmount surf life saving club.

I was transfixed by his oratory and authority as he preached the simple message of the Cross of repentance.

I immediately wanted to learn to preach like him.

Star struck as I was of this handsome and gifted preacher little did I dream that I would meet him one day and shake his hand.

When Billy Graham began his Brisbane crusade in 1959 I never missed a service.

We students somehow were given an opportunity to meet him in person at a welcome banquet.

I can’t remember how that was arranged but what a thrill it was!

Needless to say I never washed my hand for a week hoping that something would rub off in my life from this mans anointing.

Just joking of course, but that will give you an idea of the man’s presence and persona when he entered the room.

There are a number of things I learnt from those days and I sought to  carry them into my ministry.

Firstly, I remember Billy Graham telling us he wrote out his sermons in full.

I was surprised as I thought all great preachers memorised their sermons or better still spoke extemporaneously as the Holy Spirit inspired them. 

From that day on and throughout my ministry vocation I wrote out my sermons in full with colour coordination.

The second thing I learned was how to lead worship.

Cliff Barrows was my hero and so I ‘tried’ to copy his style even to the point of using his technique to start a congregation on time.

He would introduce a hymn and then say “Together” and the huge choirs and congregations never missed a beat.  

The build up to the crusade in Brisbane was amazing as churches across the city united to promote the campaign.

The services were sent by landline throughout the country.

Betty attended as a trained counsellor in Cairns.

I remember attending workshops to train and prepare to be a counsellor for the crusade.

The Billy Graham organisation wrote some excellent material on the follow up of new christians which my colleague Ps Harry Leesment has capitalised on for todays church.

If you would like some excellent follow up material for your church or new christians please feel free to contact him.

“CHRISTIAN LIFE COACH TRAINING MANUAL.”
“DISCOVER! DISCIPLESHIP BY DISCUSSIONS” (A Course for New Christians)

Call Harry on 0402 050 131. or Email him on h2leesment@gmail.com

Pastor Harry Leesment has a free copy for you.
*******
 
I applied to sing in the choir and was accepted.

My excitement was bubbling over as I knew I would be sitting directly behind Billy Graham and could watch him preach at close quarters.

For me at that time, more importantly I wanted to watch his song leader Cliff Barrows lead the choir.

I remember watching Cliff Barrows lead that vast congregation of 80,000 people in worship …. and said to myself “I want to lead worship just like that one day.”

I wept in awe at the presence of God in that service as that congregation sang “All that thrills my soul is Jesus”.

I rededicated my life to the service of God and went on to practice the things I’de learned through Billy Graham and his team.

Here it is just as I remember it and as I led it nearly 30 years later in a church in South Australia.

The Music of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association was of a standard that was second to none.

With Ted Smith at the piano and Bev Shea’s anointed  bass voice reverberating throughout the vast arena.

The most moving of all was to hear and be part of the hundreds and thousands of people as they sang in unison the great hymns of the faith.

The sounds of instruments were secondary to the sound of prayer & worship of human voices.

Of all the songs of prayer sung at the Crusades, “Just As I Am” was the signal hymn that was sung at the conclusion of every service, inviting the masses to receive Christ as their Lord and Saviour.

Since Billy Grahams passing I uploaded this video again on the internet. 

During this last week alone over 25,000 have viewed this video on my Youtube Channel honouring the great Evangelist Billy Graham.

Billy Graham’s body was buried next to his beloved Ruth Bell Graham in the Prayer Garden on the grounds of The Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina.

In Conclusion, if you would like to view further stories of the life and times of Evangelist Billy Graham go to this link at billy graham.org

 

 

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4 Responses to “Billy Graham – The Passing of the Evangelist”

  1. Jeune Mcintyre Says:

    Thank you Pastor Fred , I was fortunate to go Melbourne for a week to hear Dr. Graham . I stayed with a lady who was in the choir and I was able to be in the choir with her . Cliff Barrows was truly a great choir leader , I am glad you mentioned that the sound of instruments were secondary to the sound of the human voice in singing ,something I will never forget . Thank you Dr Graham for coming to Australia .

  2. Allan Lewis Ralph Says:

    Just great Fred! Well done✔ Love your work Pastor…..

  3. Harry and Jackie LEESMENT Says:

    What a wonderful testimony Pastor Freddy of a true disciple of Billy Graham and his team!
    The tract you can get from me was written by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) from their Counselling and Follow Up department;

    ” PREPARING YOUR CHURCH FOR NEW CHRISTIANS”

    My own books expand on these same two strategies that Jesus used, and was essential to the growth of Paradise church in South Australia (now called “Influencers Church”)

    “CHRISTIAN LIFE COACH TRAINING MANUAL.”
    “DISCOVER! DISCIPLESHIP BY DISCUSSIONS” (A Course for New Christians)
    Call Harry on 0402 050 131. OR Email me on h2leesment@gmail.com.

  4. Pauline Says:

    Thank you Fred for your report on Billy Graham, his preaching of the Gospel, his crusades and his funeral service. I too was very emotional as I watched and listened to the full Funeral Service. What a pleasure to see so many show their love and respect for Billy Graham. He was so well known and loved worldwide! We attended Crusade meetings in Brisbane. I believe many more will accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour even through his funeral service…..his son, Franklin Graham ably gave a message of salvation similar to what his father would have. Maybe there won’t be ‘another Billy Graham’ but praise God for those men and women who have faithfully preached the Gospel message over the years and for those who will do so in the future. Praise God!

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