My Tribute To Billy Graham

Written by gregdenham on February 22nd, 2018

As a young man with a strong sense of calling to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Billy Graham was like “THE- TEN-TIME-SUPER-BOWL-MVP-QB-OF-EVANGELISM!” After reading John Pollock’s biography on Billy’s life, I felt that Billy was a kind of “Christian super star” of humility, authenticity, and love. The real deal! And this was not primarily because of his prophet-like oratorical skills. His unique phrasing, timing, clarity and content which was exceptional! All so appropriate for what he was doing — which was proclaiming the greatest revelation of God to man: Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection!

If the question is, “What should a preacher of the Gospel to the masses look like?” Or, “What should a man who brings the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world look like?” Billy was that man because he modeled godly character and a powerful charisma. A charisma of genuine interest in others, empathy and love.

I first met Billy Graham at the age of 21. It was after his Anaheim Crusade in 1985. A few of us had been invited to a private hanger at John Wayne Airport to meet him before he left Orange County. It was surreal. I remember a long handshake, with him looking me in the eyes and taking an interest in who I was and in the ministry I was involved with at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. I was able to ask him how his wife Ruth was doing, because I had heard she had suffered a terrible fall from a tree. In the following years I would meet him three or four more times. I even had the privilege to lead two national conferences at the Billy Graham Conference Center in Asheville, North Carolina. And when Greg Laurie was unable to speak at a Billy Graham sponsored Crusade in India due to vocal surgery- myself and a few others spoke at the Crusade in his absence.

I’ll never forget a unique moment that I had with Billy. I was backstage at a Billy Graham Crusade in Sacramento and I made my way up the ramp from behind the stage where he was preaching. The spotlight was on him. No one else was on stage but me, in a dark corner behind the greatest evangelist in modern history preaching the Gospel and giving an invitation where thousands responded to follow Jesus. As he walked off stage we met face to face and I told him, “I love you Mr. Graham..” And with such warmth, gentleness and sincerity he answered, “I love you!” He proceeded down the backstage ramp where Stephanie was standing and holding our daughter Sarah. Billy graciously slowed to say hello and kissed Sarah’s forehead. When I think of Billy Graham – yes, I think of a great communicator of the Gospel but mostly I think of, love. I think of a man who loved Jesus and I think of a man who embodied love to others!

I’ve been told that since Ruth’s death, Billy has longed to be reunited with her and to hear the Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” As Greg Laurie penned, “Now, he is with both Ruth and Jesus. So we celebrate for him, and we mourn the loss of a godly influence on our nation and the world.”

Jesus said that the Harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. Billy was a faithful laborer of the Gospel that impacted the entire world. And I am reminded today of what he said that “The evangelistic harvest is always urgent. The destiny of men and of nations is always being decided. Every generation is crucial; every generation is strategic. But we are not responsible for the past generation, and we cannot bear full responsibility for the next one. However, we have our generation! God will hold us responsible. . . .”

Thank you Billy! And Lord help us in these urgent times …

Billy Graham Picbilly graham oakland

1 Comments so far ↓

  1. Nicholas Allen says:

    What a wonderful story! Thank you Pastor Greg for sharing.

Leave a Comment