Down the Lane: What a man Billy Graham was

Published 9:34 am Thursday, March 8, 2018

If I were ever asked the question, what American person living or dead do you admire more than anyone? My answer would fly out of my mouth.  It would be the Rev. Billy Graham.  

From the very first time I heard him on television to the day he died and beyond, I have been in awe of this God-fearing, God-loving and evangelical man of God.  

As a young girl who grew up in a Southern Baptist church, I learned the same values he preached throughout his life. I will never forget one Sunday when the pastor of our church, the Rev. Bob Durham, told our youth group Graham was coming to Louisville and if we wanted to go, he would try to find a way. We wanted to go, he found a way and we went.

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We practiced songs to be able to sing in the choir at the crusade. Oh, how we practiced and looked forward to the day we would go to see the man who spoke of God in a way we had never heard before.

The day finally arrived and Bro. Bob picked us all up in his van. We wore white blouses to fit in with the rest of the choirs that participated from around Kentucky. Bob’s mother-in-law, Mrs. Elsie Wells, worked at Perdue’s Bakery and loaded us up with cookies to eat along the way. We sang and laughed on our way to Louisville.

Once there, we found our places inside Freedom Hall. I had only been there once in my life. For some it was their first time there. We were already awestruck with the enormity of the place and the amount of happy people who were mingling around and who had come to see and hear Graham preach in person.

The program began with George Beverly Shea singing, the choirs began singing as one and then came the moment we had all looked forward to when Graham took the stage.

I do not know about the rest of my friends at the church, but I remember being mesmerized with his message of God as I always was each time I listened to him. You felt the love of God through his voice and his whole purpose of being there. His mission each time he spoke was to tell the good news of the love of God to others and that Jesus died on the cross for their sins. There was something about Graham’s message that was so pure. I truly believe God spoke through him each time he took a stage.

To this day, my friend and I hold this as one of the highlights of our life. When I hear the song “Just As I Am,” it makes me weak in the knees. It was the song played when I accepted Christ and it was the same song Graham had sung at all his crusades. The message and the plea gives all who will listen the opportunity to respond. 

Watching television this week and hearing some of the things about Graham let me know what a true man of God he really was. He faced fears in life with ease and let nothing stand in his way as he tried to proclaim the gospel he believed in.  

His life and character was one that his children knew as the same that others saw on the stage. I have often wondered if any other man had the same impact on as many people in the world as Graham did.

Last night as I lay in bed thinking about Graham’s life, I wondered what would have happened if he had not been in our world? I can not even begin to imagine what this world would have become. Another Sodom and Gomorrah, maybe, like in the Bible?

Then I thought who is going to stand up for God the way Graham did? Who is going to care enough about others to send God’s message to the world? The purpose of all Christians is to do just what Graham did, but to do it daily to all we meet.  

I had a renewed respect for all the missionaries who are risking life and limb to spread God’s word in countries that need it so much. Our own country is still in need of God. I hope somewhere in America another young child is willing to give their all to telling the good news the way Graham did. 

Billy Graham never hid his light under a bushel like the little song I used to sing as a child and have taught to other children. He let it shine, let it shine, let it shine! He wanted to let it shine until Jesus came.  

I could just imagine the homecoming he had when he was welcomed into Heaven’s gates. If anyone who lived on earth has heard, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant,” I believe those words were spoken to him as he bowed before the God he spoke about all his life and who reached for him with open arms.  

I envisioned the smiles and tears of joy on both of their faces as they embraced one another.

Sue Staton is a Clark County native who grew up in the Kiddville area. She is a wife, mother and grandmother who is active in her church, First United Methodist Church, and her homemakers group, Towne and Country Homemakers.