Today is Reverend Billy Graham's 97th Birthday. He, most assuredly, is recognized as the greatest evangelist of the 20th century. Last evening, I watched the program on Christian TV honoring Billy Graham's life and his service to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. They showed short clips of a good number of his crusades around the world and of his declaring and sharing a simple message of salvation through Jesus. Millions of souls have been saved through his crusades. Many last evening, along with wishing Reverend Billy Graham a Happy Birthday, gave their own testimony of how they came to Jesus Christ through one of his crusades. Praise the Lord! Thank you God for choosing and using this wonderful, loyal, dedicated man of God in your service. This brought back memories of Billy Graham's influence in my life and on my relationship with Jesus.
I was but 16 years old in August of 1961 when a Billy Graham Crusade was scheduled to take place on the State Fairgrounds in Minnesota. My pastor's daughter talked me into participating in sessions that prepared people to be counselors to assist and talk with those coming forward when Billy Graham gave the altar call each night of the Crusade. I went through the training and was selected to be a Junior Counselor. I also, practiced to be in the choir for the crusade. On the first night, when the altar call was made, I was directed to a young woman who came forward, and we talked. It seemed as if she was more convicted and mature in her faith than I was. After that first night's experience, I was too afraid to try to be a counselor again. I sang each night of the three night crusade, but, did not assist as a counselor.
Move forward now, exactly 40 years to August of 2001, I was stirring inside as the Holy Spirit was drawing me into a convicted and committed relationship with Jesus Christ. I had left the church I had been a member of for 26 years believing in my mind that the church was just too social and not spiritual. Instead of looking for another church, I spent 7 years away from church. The Holy Spirit was really working on me, thank you Jesus, and I was so longing to hear the simple Gospel message of salvation through Jesus Christ. I was so desiring to hear truth.
I just could not and did not want to go back to the church I had left several years before, so, I decided to try another church. I wanted to test it out before I made any form of commitment to become involved in this church. That first Sunday, there was a membership class after the service, and I decided to sit in on the class. I sat way in the back of the big room and listened to what the pastor had to say. I was relatively pleased with the message and made the decision to try out this church. Throughout the month of September, instead of clicking past Christian programs on TV, I was drawn to them. The Holy Spirit was clearly at work. Thank you Jesus.
On Tuesday, October 2, 2001, after having watched two programs on TBN on which both preachers put out a call to give your life to Jesus, at about 12:30 a.m., I started to weep as I repented of my sin toward God and gave up myself and gave my life to God. I made the commitment to serve and follow Jesus Christ for the rest of my life. I surrendered my all to the one and only Lord and Savior. The best decision I have ever made. I wept for some 2 hours and finally fell asleep. In the morning, I woke up with this wonderful sense of peace. That sense of peace that passeth all understanding. Amen.
But, I, also, had the exact same feeling I had 40 years prior at the Billy Graham Crusade, I am too afraid. This time though, I would NOT BACK AWAY from serving and following Jesus. I was so hungry for God's Word. I thought about what would be the best way to learn truth from God's Word. I remembered Billy Graham and went out on the internet to his website and looked up different topics. I made hard copies on many topics and I spent the next several weeks absorbing the teachings of Billy Graham. Along with intensely reading God's Word. This undertaking served as such a wonderful blessing.
Today, I still have such great respect for Billy Graham and his simply preaching the truth found in God's Word. Thank you Billy Graham for being such an awesome servant of God.
Dorothy von Lehe