A reflection from a former employee
I had the privilege of working for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) for almost 8 years. During those years, I often had days where I paused to remember everything this organization accomplished, an organization started by a simple farm boy who was obedient to the call God put on his life.
It is simply impossible for me not to reflect on my experience and what I learned from Billy Graham as we celebrate his life. Here are the nine things I learned while working in various departments at Billy Graham’s organization:
- One of the first things I noticed when starting my job at BGEA is that Billy Graham was bold and adventurous. Billy Graham used every medium available to communicate the gospel message, and this continued with each new wave of communication. No new medium has gone untouched. BGEA learns about and creatively leverages each medium for gospel purposes.
The desire for everyone to know they are loved by God and to call them into a relationship with Jesus Christ is at the core of all that the BGEA does because it is the heartbeat and calling of Billy Graham. So, he took risks when new mediums emerged desiring to meet people where they are and where they spend their time.
- Billy Graham was a man of prayer. With crusades in over 185 countries reaching over 200 million people, one could start to think that he simply had a goal to go to every country and state to preach the gospel, or that he threw a dart at a map to pick where he would go to preach the gospel that year. Not so. Each crusade had the humble beginnings of citizens in a community praying for the people of their town/city/country to know Jesus. When this prayerful group, or person, would connect with the BGEA for Billy to come to their city, the organization would ask if they told their pastor their desire. If this pastor had the same desire as the prayer group, their pastor was challenged to talk and to pray with other pastors in the area, especially pastors of other denominations. This was to see if they too had a burden for a Crusade in their community, desiring not just for Billy to come but for there to be an opportunity to reach people in their community for Christ.
The Billy Graham Crusades all had humble beginnings – people praying for others to know Jesus. And Billy and those working at the BGEA would be praying for these communities too, to see where God would have them go next.
- Billy Graham loved the local church. A Crusade did not take place unless it was orchestrated by multiple local, Bible-believing churches of various denominations. The churches were the ones who organized their people to reach out to their neighbors and their city. BGEA came alongside the church to train them how to share their faith and how to invite friends to church, not just to the Crusade. Billy was very aware that his Crusades were only for a short time, so local churches in every Crusade city were trained for caring for new believers after the event. New believers would be contacted and invited to church as they began their relationship with Jesus Christ.
- Billy’s message was consistent throughout the decades. When I started working for BGEA in 2005, I loved watching Billy’s old crusades alongside his most recent because the message never changed throughout all his years of ministry. Each of the countless sermons he preached remained gospel-centered and filled with Biblical truths.
- Billy Graham was humble. While he was often the center of attention when he traveled to Crusade cities, he did not want to keep the focus on himself, but he would take every opportunity to communicate the truths of the Bible and the love of Christ. In countless interviews, Billy found ways to turn the conversation to the saving gospel of how much God loves you, that we are all sinners, and that the way to heaven is through Jesus Christ (John 14:6).
- Billy Graham was a student of the Word of God. When you listen to his messages from Crusades, and even interviews, they are saturated with Scripture. Billy Graham knew that his words didn’t change a person’s heart to come to know God, but that God’s Word would not return void.
- Billy Graham was faith-filled and focused. I listened to an interview he gave one day where he simply stated that he didn’t understand everything the Bible said, but that he accepted everything the Bible said by faith.
- Billy Graham was a man of integrity. He put up safeguards to protect his own marriage like never being alone with a woman who was not his wife. He put those same safeguards in place as policy for those working in his organization. I loved working at a place that desired to honor God by protecting the marriages of its employees.
- Billy Graham knew who he was in Christ. As we continue to see the quote “My home is in heaven. I’m just traveling through this world.” we see his focus and that he knew not only whose he was, but where he was going. In his messages, he confesses that he is a sinner and in great need of a Savior.
Billy Graham is proof that God uses ordinary people for extraordinary things. A boy who grew up on a dairy farm, who had the makings of a small community pastor, who knew his calling from God for ministry was used by God to tell others that God was real and that He really loved them. He traveled the world urging people wherever he went to see who they are in view of what the Bible said: that we are sinners in need of a Savior. He urged people to confess their sins, believe in God, and surrender their lives to the God of the universe who knew them and loved them.
I will always be grateful for my days as an employee at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. I will always be challenged by the example that Billy Graham gave as he lived a faith-filled, focused life in obedience to his calling from God. I look forward to the day when I am home in heaven singing praises to our great God alongside not only Billy Graham, but the countless other children of God, when God’s glory will truly be the song we sing.
Mr. Graham, thank you for living a life focused on making the name of Jesus known and giving all the glory to God. You set out not to make your own name known, but to lift high the name of Jesus Christ. Thank you for being a man of prayer and a student of God’s Word. The extent of your impact will only be known in heaven as countless men and women walk through eternity because you were obedient to what God called you to do – to preach His Word. We may never know the rippling effects of one of those people confessing Christ after hearing the Gospel you preached to them on the radio, or on TV or over the Internet; entire generations of families changed as a result. Thank you for giving us Jesus.
“God loved the world so much, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
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