It was the last quarter of my junior year in high school. I was just beginning to come out of a spiritual fog that I had entered during my teenage years.
I had made a commitment to Messiah when I was five, but as I entered high school I was swayed by all things secular and discipleship moved to the background. It was within the last few months of school that I realized I needed to get my life back on track and began making changes. The youth group at my church was taking a trip to a Billy Graham revival and I decided to tag along.
We sat in a huge auditorium packed with people of all ages and ethnicities. I don’t exactly remember what Reverend Graham said but I was so moved that I went forward during the altar call. When we reached the front we got in lines to pray with one of his staff members. I was so shaken by what Reverend Graham had said that when I was asked if I was committing my life to the Lord for the first time I froze and was speechless. The women assumed I was becoming a believer for the first time and prayed with me. Regardless of the misunderstanding, my experience at the Billy Graham revival would end up being a pivotal point in my life.
Reverend Graham passed away last Wednesday, February 21. He was an ordained Baptist minister and probably the most famous evangelist and influential preacher of the modern era. Like with me, his message has affected thousands of lives, ushering them from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. He would hold countless numbers of packed revival meetings in stadiums throughout the world. His impact on Christianity is immeasurable, and I dare say that Messianic Judaism would not exist today without his great efforts. It’s estimated that he reached over 3.2 million people with the call of the gospel at these events.
Leaders from all denominations of Christianity praise his work. This includes secular personalities, too. Even Bob Dylan had this to say about Billy Graham’s legacy:
When I was growing up, Billy Graham was very popular. He was the greatest preacher and evangelist of my time—that guy could save souls and did. I went to two or three of his rallies in the ’50s or ’60s. This guy was like rock ’n’ roll personified—volatile, explosive. He had the hair, the tone, the elocution—when he spoke, he brought the storm down. Clouds parted. Souls got saved, sometimes 30- or 40,000 of them. If you ever went to a Billy Graham rally back then, you were changed forever. There’s never been a preacher like him. He could fill football stadiums before anybody. He could fill Giants Stadium more than even the Giants football team. Seems like a long time ago. Long before Mick Jagger sang his first note or Bruce strapped on his first guitar—that’s some of the part of rock ’n’ roll that I retained. I had to. I saw Billy Graham in the flesh and heard him loud and clear.
I know I stand with countless others as being forever grateful for the impact that Reverend Graham’s work had on my life. While I am saddened by his passing, no one could argue that he did not fulfill his life’s work for Yeshua to the fullest. May his memory serve as a blessing and may it inspire us to spread the gospel of the kingdom to the ends of the earth.