As a young boy and then as a teenager 3 evangelists have had a great influence on my life : Luis Palau, Reinhard Bonnke and Billy Graham.
Reverend Graham was without any doubt the greatest evangelist of all times. A few days ago, at age 99, the much respected American preacher went to be with the Lord.
Billy Graham did more than preach the Gospel to crowds : he inspired and equipped generations of evangelists, launched the Lausanne Movement to get the Good News to the unreached people of the Earth and was a powerful instrument in bringing together Christians from every denomination.
I was 13 years old when Billy Graham came to France. Terrorist attacks in the Parisian underground did not stop people flocking to hear him preach. Each meeting held in Paris was transmitted via satellite to a number of locations across the country. I remember going to that little town of Thiers in Central France to see the famous preacher on screen. Technology back then was not at its best: At one point we could see Billy Graham but the sound had gone. It still did not stop people to respond at the end of the sermon and come down in front of the big screen to give their hearts to Jesus!
I was 16 when I finally saw Billy Graham ‘for real’. My parents , my brother and I happened to be in London. Earl’s Court Stadium was packed. As Mr Graham came to the pulpit to preach, a group of young hecklers holding a banner started to disturb the meeting. Billy Graham kept his calm, looked at the group and simply said: ‘No worries. Back in the 40s when I first came to London your parents where already trying to disturb my meetings!’ The crowd cheered and applaud.
The whole London crusade was transmitted across the African continent. Nelson Mandela was back then still in prison. He happened to hear Graham’s sermon and we were told had while in his prison cell turned his life to Christ.
Millions across the world today are thankful to God for the preacher of North Carolina who one day led them to a personal relationship with Jesus.