Billy Graham nearly made it to his 100th birthday before the Lord called him home last week. He was given the rare honor to have his body lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda prior to the burial. One reason for that is the personal contact he had with 13 U.S. Presidents from Harry Truman forward.
He had attended evangelistic meetings in 1934 under the preaching of Evangelist Mordecai Ham but did not then make a public profession of faith. Two young preachers out of Bob Jones College, Fred Brown and Monroe Parker, were preaching simultaneous evangelistic meetings nightly in the two close-together towns of Sharon, and Thrift, North Carolina. They were both staying at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Graham, in Sharon. The Grahams were concerned about their son, Billy Frank, who was 17 at the time. They explained to young Monroe Parker that though Billy had gone forward at the Mordecai Ham meeting the year before, he had not yet made a public profession of faith in Christ.
Billy Frank attended the preaching meetings held by Monroe Parker in Sharon, N.C. and on the second Friday night of those meetings Parker preached a sermon he titled, “Is It Wrong to Dance?” Billy came forward with 37 others of his high school classmates. He later told Parker that he had been saved on that Friday night. Billy Graham went a year to Bob Jones College and then on to Florida Bible Institute.
Billy Graham’s early years of preaching campaigns, which sometimes went nightly for six weeks or more, were powerfully used of God with tens of thousands making professions of faith, and many of those showing obvious life-changing results. Louie Zamporini, who had become a drunken abusive husband after his bitterness over the suffering he endured at the hands of his Japanese captors in WWII, was dragged to the 1949 L.A. Crusade by his wife. He hated the preaching, but felt compelled to return the next night, and was genuinely converted. He went home and poured all his booze down the sink, never to touch it again. He became a model husband, father and Christian from that night on. Such remarkable conversions were common in Graham’s meetings from 1947 through about 1957.
Unfortunately, it was about that time that he gave in to the influences of the ecumenical forces of the liberals and progressives. His hope was a genuine desire to be able to preach to larger audiences, but it was to come with the price of compromising on what he would be able to preach. Those making professions at his meetings began to be sent on to churches which did not believe the Bible was the infallible Word of God. Liberal protestant groups and the Roman Catholic Church then became part of the Crusades, leading to more and more confusion as converts at these meetings were brought into these liberal churches.
Despite this, we can thank the Lord for all those who did come to genuine repentance, and faith in Christ for salvation, through the preaching of Billy Graham, and we can commit ourselves to staying faithful to the preaching and living of God’s Word till we stand before God and give an account of our own conduct in the time He gave us.