60 Years of Proclaiming the Good News
People Testify About God's Goodness Through BGEA
September 20, 2010 - As we celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association this month, we also want to celebrate God's goodness to those whom we serve — you. Read the testimonies of just a few of the people with changed lives.
I found myself listening to Brother Graham as He said, 'If you were the only person in the world, Christ would have died for you.'
One Life Changed, Many More Affected
In 1967, at 9 years old I was a mischievous, hyperactive little boy. Though brought up in the Presbyterian Church, I had no interest in spiritual things. I remember wondering what purpose I could live my life by that would outlast me. One night I watched a Billy Graham crusade on TV. He not only showed me clearly what that purpose could and should be. He also described clearly the results of not following Christ. That very night I prayed to receive Christ into my heart. Now I am a senior pastor. I am one more life God used Billy Graham to change and affect many others.
A Legacy of Ministry
My grandmother introduced me to the ministry of Billy Graham at a young age and I learned a lot from that first broadcast. I saw tons of people turning their lives over to Christ and an impression was made upon me that remains to this day – especially since most ministry these days seems to be self-indulgent and not aimed at winning souls. Thank you, Reverend Graham for setting the standard for soul winning. I have applied these lessons in my own ministry and hope to one day be able to say that God drew uncountable thousands to Himself through my ministry as he has through yours. God bless!
And the Crusade Continues…Three Houses Down the Street
I was 13 years old and had been suicidal that entire year, having been subjected to years of all kinds of abuse in my family. I just couldn’t take it anymore. A girl three houses down invited me over and started sharing Jesus with me (I was catholic and had an understanding of God). Just before school started back up, she asked me if I wanted to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I said yes, and my entire life was changed from that day on. I found my savior, my love, and my best friend.
I found out later that when she invited me over, she had been to the Billy Graham Crusade in Cleveland the week before. Her catching fire due to Billy Graham’s sermons resulted in my salvation. Decision Magazine became my teacher, as I was not allowed to go to her church or Sunday school. Later, I had the very great privilege of singing in the choir at the last Crusade in Cleveland, Ohio. I am thankful and grateful for God calling Billy Graham to preach and his obedience to that call. Thank you Billy Graham, and all who have supported you and worked for you all these years! Probably won’t meet you until were all in Heaven, and I can’t wait!
Reconciling Earthly and Heavenly Relationships
At 17, I had recently accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. Although my mother was also a Christian, we had always had a very tumultuous relationship. I was a very rebellious child and my mother just didn’t know how to handle me. To others she was very kind, but when it came to me, maybe there was just too much hurt and pain. I reminded her of my father who was an alcoholic and not very kind to us. He died when I was nine, but I was always the black sheep of the family (very typical coming from an alcoholic home).
One day Mom and I were sitting in the living room and the Billy Graham Crusade was on TV. We watched it together. At the end of the program, he asked people in the television audience to take a hold of someone’s hand and pray. It wasn’t easy for me to do, but I reached out and took my mother’s hand. At that moment, the presence of the Holy Spirit filled the room with such power and intensity it is too hard to describe. It was one of the very few times we ever had a moment like this.
Mom died when I was 23 (I am now 50). I can still remember the power of that one simple gesture of reaching out to each other. It showed me that the Lord cares for us and wanted to heal our relationship, and for that I will always be grateful.
It was only a moment in time, but I will never forget it. My turning point was when, in an archival televised event, Billy Graham talked about accepting Christ as his personal savior “by faith.” That was not an intellectual or emotional choice, but a decision made by faith. I had never heard that phrase in context with the Gospel message. I had struggled for years with the intellectual aspects of considering the truth of who Jesus was, had walked away from it, and could not walk through that doorway to personal salvation until I heard Dr. Graham say those words. And I thank God that he took that risk those many years ago to talk about his own struggle with accepting Jesus Christ "by faith," and the Bible as truth by faith. I can now talk to others and share this personal acceptance with this brief but powerful segment of understanding – all thanks to Dr. Graham.
A Life Change Across the Globe
I am a 36-year-old Indian man, living in Madras, India. I want to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to Dr. Billy Graham for leading me to a knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. I come from a cultural Christian home, where church attendance was regular, but I found no meaning in going to church. I just went because my parents took me along. However, in my early teens I developed an interest in Jesus. So, I just picked up to read “How to be Born Again” by Dr. Graham, that my father had bought. It was the first time I was exposed to the truth about God, Jesus, and myself.
Dr. Graham presented these truths in such a manner that even a 15-year-old could easily understand. The Gospel was clear to me, and the fact that I was not a Christian just because I come from a religious home was also clear to me. I quietly slipped to my knees and prayed the sinner’s prayer that was in the end of the book. I immediately knew that something had happened to me. God had adopted me into his family.
Several things have transpired in my life after the life-changing episode. Space does not allow me tell everything. Life has treated me quite badly. And I have to confess I have reacted in ungodly ways at times. But God has been faithful in restoring me to fellowship with Himself over and over. I’m extremely thankful to Dr. Graham for not only leading me to Jesus Christ, but for being a role model for me ever since God saved me. His humility, integrity, and faithfulness, are more attractive to me than his great accomplishments. His compassion for people, and his love for dear Mrs. Ruth Graham and their children are so appealing to me that I want to emulate him.
Encouragement in Hard Times
In May 2007, our 22-year-old daughter was killed in a traffic accident in front of our very eyes. During that time it looked liked I might be without a job and my husband went through a mental breakdown. God, our pastor and Billy Graham were the three who encouraged me.
I started listening to the Billy Graham classics on TBN and reading his and his wife’s books along with some written by their children. What a blessing they have been! We were Christians before and I know we will see our Lord and loved ones someday. You will never know this side of Heaven what you have done for us.
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A Date With Providence
My story begins when I was a teenager back in Scotland. I had fallen in love with a young girl, who I am glad to say is now my wife. When we were boyfriend and girlfriend, she was a Christian and I believed in evolution. I wanted nothing to do with God.
One day an evangelist came to Great Britain. His sermon was to be sent across country by close circuit television and it was to be broadcast in a theater in Glasgow, Scotland. My wife and her mother wanted to see this great evangelist so I decided to drive them to Glasgow to the theater. When I got there, there were too many people around the theater to be able to stop the car and drop them off at the door. So, I had to park a few streets away. I did not want them to walk to the theater alone so I said that I would take them to the door and pick them up later. Upon arriving at the theater the throng of people was so strong that I found myself carried inside unable to get out. I sat with the mindset to completely block out what was being said, but during the service I found myself listening to Brother Graham as He said, “If you were the only person in the world, Christ would have died for you.”
My heart wept inside of me and I felt something I had never felt before. When the invitation was given I got up and told my wife that I had to go forward and give my life to Christ. Years later, I took a step of faith and went to Bible college in my late 30’s as my wife and I were raising 3 children. I am now 61 years old and my wife and I just celebrated our 41st wedding anniversary. I would not change one minute of my life for I know that I have been walking with God every step of the way since that night in Glasgow so many years ago. I now Pastor a church with my wife at my side.
Knowledge of a Secure Salvation
Having grown up attending a church that taught you could lose your salvation, I always feared I wouldn’t quite make it to heaven. In September of 1980, while listening to a Billy Graham Crusade on television, Dr. Graham explained how we could have God’s peace that very night. He said we could receive that gift from God wherever we were – in a car, at the crusade, in our living room, etc. – and that we could be assured that God would never leave us. I prayed, asking God for the peace that Dr. Graham was describing. I believed in God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, but I had never known the peace of God’s assurance. I have never doubted my eternal destination after that evening. I immediately had an overwhelming sense of inner peace that continues to this day.
Before It Was Too Late
I want to thank Billy Graham for coming to Arizona and holding a Crusade in the mid-1970s. My husband Rick and I lived there and attended the Crusade. It was at that Crusade that he walked forward at the altar call and gave his life to Christ. His father was in Indiana watching TV and saw his son go forward and accept Christ. What a thrill it was for him!
In 1978 Rick was killed in a horrific accident on our farm, killing him immediately. I was left with three young children: ages 1, 3, and 6. However, I was also left with the peace knowing Rick was with the Lord! Thank you Billy and may God continue to use you and your organization.
Time to Run
I was 16 years old in 1974. Although I was raised in a traditional church, I did not know Christ and the joy of having my sins forgiven. I had been with the wild crowd and was borderline suicidal. In February of that year, I attended the public movie "Time to Run" in our local theater in Bryan, Ohio.
That night changed my destiny forever.
I went with a young man with whom I had an argument in the car with prior to seeing the film. He could see I was changing in my desires to live for something other than the world and he stated, "I liked you better the old way.” In the movie the young man says to the Christian young lady, "I liked you the old way," and that did it. I knew this was way too weird to be happening before my eyes. I had a choice to make and that was to choose Christ and acknowledge Him before men. I was scared to stand up as I was very self-conscious, but I heard a voice saying in my heart, this is what you have asked for, this is what you have prayed for. Now is your time to choose!
I stood up walked the aisle and there was no organ playing, no singing by the audience as this was a theater but God met me. I left a different person. I didn’t understand everything about what just happened, but I knew I felt peace for the first time. I wasn’t scared. I wasn’t mad. I knew I was clean and forgiven and Jesus was alive. The booklets from Billy Graham that were follow up were always something I looked forward to and they grounded me until I went to Bible college a year and a half later.
I have continued to serve the Lord in various capacities such as Christian radio, speaking in ladies groups and conducting Bible studies. I love to talk about the Lord when opportunity presents and now work with seniors who need assistance in their homes. God continues to lead and strengthen me through His Spirit. I have many stories of Gods wonderful involvement in my life, but Ill spare you a book. I’m still standing for Jesus after all these years. Billy Graham was the harvester God used to bring me into the kingdom, and I will forever be grateful.
The Power of Television
I grew up in a non-Christian home until I was about 13 years old. My Dad became a believer and began trying to witness. He didn’t do a very good job at first. He didn’t know what to say or how to say it. God knew what He was doing though. One of my Dads tactics was to turn the Billy Graham crusades on TV even if no one was in the room. One night, I wandered into the TV room and God grabbed me. The Holy Spirit reached out to me and wouldn’t let me go. I recognized my need for the grace of Jesus Christ. I called the number on the screen and said, "I want to be saved.”
Years later, in seminary, I had the opportunity to be on the other end of the phone leading lost souls to Jesus. I am now a pastor. I have always wanted to meet Dr. Graham, but never had the chance. I thank God all the time for using Dr. Graham and the message of the Gospel to change my life forever. Now, we have a Christian family. My Dad is saved. My Mom was saved before her death. My wife and kids are saved. As parents, it seems like we are constantly fighting the battle of turning the TV off. But on that day back in 1983, I am sure glad my Dad turned the TV on. It changed my life.
A Full Circle Experience
23 years ago I came home in the evening and turned on the TV to watch my favorite weekly program. Much to my disappointment my TV program had been preempted by a televised crusade. I was really put off by it, but the Holy Spirit was working in me (as I now know) and I sat and watched it. Although I had been raised with a formal religious background, for the first time I heard the Gospel message. I was intrigued by what I heard. Not in an emotional way, but in a matter-of-fact way. I called the number to request a cassette tape because I wanted to hear the message again. A lady answered the phone and said, "Before I help you with your order, can I ask you if you’ve ever received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?"
Normally I would have been offended by such a question. But now, I thought for a moment and said, "I’m not sure." The woman proceeded to lead me through a prayer where I acknowledged that I was a sinner and to receive Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior. I went to bed that night knowing that my life had just changed.
From there I started attending a Bible teaching church. Years later when Mr. Graham held a Crusade in Rochester, NY, I volunteered in the Crusade office and on few committees. Many years later God called me to serve the ministry by moving to North Carolina and working for BGEA for a few years. It was a blessed full circle experience: being saved through a televised Crusade in my 20’s, volunteering at a crusade in my home city in my 30’s, and working for BGEA in my 40’s. I am eternally grateful for the salvation message that I heard through the BGEA ministry and for having the privilege to have served God through it.