To God Be the Glory
March 1, 2007 - To God be the glory—you hear the theme again and again when Cliff Barrows and George Beverly Shea speak of their years of ministry with Billy Graham and of what God continues to do through the ministry of BGEA today.
by Bob Paulson
During a recent conversation, amid laughter and warm memories of friends and acquaintances, the two men repeatedly expressed a sense of awe at God’s grace and power—especially when asked about some of their fondest Crusade memories.
For Bev Shea, it was when a Crusade got personal. “I remember Melbourne, Australia, 1959,” he recalls. “My 11-year-old son, Ron, walked forward in the misty rain to give his heart to Jesus. [Team member] Grady Wilson saw him, went down and put his arm around him and was used of the Lord to help Ron pray.”
For Cliff Barrows, it was specific answers to prayer. “Most evident have been the times when we have extended the Crusade in answer to prayer,” he says. “The Los Angeles Crusade in 1949 was scheduled for three weeks, and we went on for eight weeks. In New York we were scheduled for six weeks, and we went for 16. We would put out a fleece at the end of every week for God to show us whether we ought to continue or not. And it was so evident in L.A., because one week [mob wiretapper] Jim Vaus came to Christ. Another week [TV star] Harvey Fritts came to Christ. Another week [Olympic track star] Louis Zamperini came to Christ. And then [radio host] Stuart Hamblen came to Christ.
“In London, England, we went for 12 weeks—night after night after night at Harringay Arena.”
During that London Crusade, in 1954, the Team was struck by the vibrancy of Fanny Crosby’s hymn “To God Be the Glory.”
“It was an American hymn,” Barrows recalls, “but they sang it in England, and we loved it. We picked it up, brought it back to America and used it in all the Crusades.”
The theme of that hymn—to God be the glory, great things He hath done—expresses the message of the Billy Graham Library, scheduled to open this summer on the grounds of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, in Charlotte, N.C.
The Library will include multimedia presentations, touch-screen computer kiosks, photographs, artifacts and displays that show how God has drawn millions to faith in Christ through Mr. Graham’s proclamation of the Gospel. Visitors will hear the Good News presented clearly and be given an opportunity to make a commitment to Jesus Christ—the very thing that defines the ministry of Billy Graham and his Team.
“I think the need is greater now than it has ever been,” Barrows says. “The population has expanded since the early days of our Crusades. People who visit the Library will hear Billy bring the Gospel message and give the invitation. And we will have counselors on duty all the time to counsel with visitors and lead them to Christ.”
For Barrows and Shea, the conversation brings to mind another hymn that is close to their hearts: “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” Shea tells how, in 1939, he joined the staff of Moody Bible Institute’s radio station, WMBI, and soon met William Runyan, who taught piano and voice at Moody. Some 16 years earlier, Runyan had written the music for “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” to go along with Thomas Chisholm’s lyrics.
“I believe that is my favorite hymn, Bev,” Barrows says to his long-time friend. “And this Library will depict it. That’s the glorious thing about it. It majors not on Billy’s oratory or your singing or the choir direction—it majors on the faithfulness of God and the cross of Jesus Christ.”