I can hardly measure the effect this man has had on my life. I vaguely remember hearing about Billy Graham or seeing just a snippet of his TV special when I was a little boy. I know that whenever the music of thousands of people singing a hymn would hit the screen, some member of my family would jump up, run to the TV set and change the channel. Our family wanted nothing to do with him (although my mother liked him and would sometimes retreat to her room and watch his crusade on her TV set).
Then in 1975 my father left us. I still remember that day, December 14, like it was yesterday. To fill the void, to soothe the pain…I started reading the Bible. It was so difficult. Thank God Billy Graham came on TV. Later I started writing him (“Billy Graham… Minneapolis, Minnesota..that th all the address you need!”) and someone on his staff would faithfully answer all my questions about the Bible.
I watched him and I was mesmerized. I loved the way he spoke (he was a Southerner just like me!) and what he had to say about Jesus was so clear. I did not really understand the Gospel at age 13 or 14, but I did understand the last thing he would say at the end of a sermon: “and go to church next Sunday!” Mama and I were in the den watching him, and I said to her “Mama let’s do what he says. Let’s go to church this Sunday.” So we did. And I’ve been going every Sunday ever since.
Daddy came back to us years later, thank God. He loved watching Billy Graham too. His favorite part was when Billy would point to the crowd and say, “God loves you…and you…and you…and you too!” In 1981 Daddy and I both asked Jesus to be our Lord and Savior (Mama had already been a Christian for years). As long as I lived in the home, watching Billy Graham on TV was a special time. We loved watching the special singers (Evie Tornquist, Larnell Harris, even Johnny Cash!), and we just hung on every word he said.
The best part of all was the three of us listening to them sing “Just as I am”. Mama knew every word.
Well, Mama and Daddy have been in heaven for many years now. Today, Billy Graham met them! Thank you, Billy, for the wonderful, happy blessings you were to my family.