Faith Stories You Won’t Forget Series – Billy Graham, The Ripple Effect and Me
On November 7, 2013 Dr. Billy Graham, age 95, preached his last televised sermon. The TV program also included up-to-date testimonies of two young adults who had recently made decisions to put their faith in Jesus Christ in exactly the way Billy Graham personally invited over 200 million people at his crusades to do over the span of his lifelong, worldwide evangelistic outreach.
Billy Graham resides in Montreat, North Carolina in a rustic log home. He is slowed by Parkinson’s Disease but his mind and his message are clear. His message hasn’t changed over the decades.
Billy Graham is widely described as the most humble man you’ll ever meet. His ministry and its supporting organization, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, have never been touched by scandal. Billy has always drawn a modest salary and no other compensation.
Here is the link to the short CBS News video report on his last sermon that is featured on the Homepage..
The whole 30 minute TV program may be seen online at the link below.
Now I’d like to turn to how Billy Graham had an impact on me. The story has some odd twists and turns so bear with me as I explain.
First, I’d like you to read a short article that has been around in slightly varying forms on and off the internet. It is called “The Ripple Effect”. I had actually prepared a blog post for some future time but it seems that this is the right time. The post went like this:
It makes you think about the importance of every word and action taken during a lifetime.
Maybe this was the only time God used Edward Kimball and maybe not. But what a ripple!
July 1, 1885, a man named Edward Kimball had a burden for a shoe salesman, by the name of Dwight L. Moody – D.L. Moody. This layman, Kimball, went to the shoe store and talked to young Moody about his salvation. Moody got converted. He began Bible classes and then later began preaching. He went to England and preached in Dr. F. B. Meyer’s big church. Meyer’s life was touched by the Holy Spirit through Moody’s preaching.
F. B. Meyer came to the United States and was preaching in a college at the chapel service and his sermon was about full surrender. He said, “If you cannot tell God you are willing to give Him everything, ask Him to make you willing to be willing.” Wilbur Chapman, who was listening to Meyer, said to himself, “He is talking to me, I’ve been ready to quit, give it up and get out of the ministry.” Wilbur Chapman was touched by God and let God use him in a mighty way.
Chapman then began to look for someone to help him in evangelistic work. He found a professional baseball player, a young man converted from a life of drunkenness in Chicago. His name was Billy Sunday. When Chapman got old, he turned his work and equipment over to Sunday. Billy Sunday became a world famous evangelist. He was in his generation what Billy Graham has been and is to his generation.
In 1924 Sunday preached a city-wide crusade in Charlotte, North Carolina. Out of that revival meeting a group of men formed a men’s prayer group to pray for the world. They prayed for Charlotte to have another great revival.
God sent another evangelist named Mordecai Hamm. Hamm went to Charlotte in 1934 to hold a crusade. Under the big tent were two young men, Grady Wilson and 15-year-old Billy Graham. Graham was converted in that crusade and dedicated his life to telling others about salvation. Grady Wilson became a preacher too, and the two of them worked together for many years.
Look at the chain reaction: from Kimball to Moody to Meyer, to eventually, Billy Graham. Most of us have never heard of the Bible class teacher named Kimball. We have dropped his name and only remembered the famous Graham, but heaven has not lost his name. His name is written down in glory. You never know what you set in motion when you help win a soul for Christ.
PS My mother attended Billy Sunday Crusades in New York City about 1920 as a young woman and about 43 years later while miraculously watching the end of a Billy Graham televised crusade (See my blog post “How I met Jesus Christ While Looking for the Yankees on TV”), I gave my heart to Jesus Christ as Savior and the Lord of my life! I hope to keep the ripple going. – Dick S
I had also written a sort of personal testimony blog post post titled “How I Met Jesus Christ While Looking for the Yankees on TV – Dick Stannard” referring to Billy Graham.
Here it is.
As a new husband and father I was pretty content with my life on this warm September evening in 1963. I had graduated from college and had a job in my field. I had my high school sweetheart and the only girl I had ever dated as my wife and a gorgeous baby girl who was a joy to both of us. I thought of myself as a pretty good guy — no crimes, no drugs or alcohol and generally friendly and helpful.
We lived in an upstairs apartment and in the summer it was quite warm – hot really. There was no central air conditioning in the older house and we didn’t think we were ready to buy the multiple window units that would be needed to cool the apartment. So I cranked up the 20-inch fan and settled in for some black and white TV viewing.
As I remember it, Lynn was getting the baby ready for bed and I turned on the TV. We were able to receive the three major networks and the Public TV channel. As I turned the channel tuner knob (notice there was no remote in those days, either!) looking for the Yankee game special broadcast, I happened to land on another channel just at the split second that Billy Graham looked right into the TV camera in a close up shot and his eyes met mine (remember I was just in front of the screen turning the channel knob).
Billy said something pretty close to this:
“If you died tonight, do you know where you would spend eternity?”
I paused my fingers on the channel knob to see what he was talking about. He continued:
“The Bible says that:
“All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23
“The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ.” Romans 6:23
Billy then proceeded to name a lengthy list of sin categories including several that I was guilty of.
I thought to myself that God would surely balance my sins against all the good things I did and stood for. Billy shot that idea down in his next sentence.
There is only one way, he said, to make peace with God and receive His forgiveness and that is to accept the atoning sacrifice of His Son, Jesus.
Well, I was really shook up – and all of this in about 30 seconds! One thing I was sure of: I didn’t want God against me; I wanted to be on his side. So I decided quite deliberately and thoughtfully right then and there that I would accept Jesus as my savior and purposed to make him the center of my life.
It was a supernatural encounter, I believe, and it changed my life forever (literally!).
I never did see the Yankee game that night but I didn’t miss it!
What’s your God moment story or testimony or conversion or “born again” experience or whatever you choose to call it?
Anybody dare to share?
Check out The Four Spiritual Laws that govern your relationship with God. This little booklet has been distributed worldwide in over 140 languages and over 2.5 billion copies have been printed and distributed. Do it now – don’t put it off. – Dick S
Click this link to see a copy of the Four Spiritual laws.
I guess it is pretty obvious why I have a soft spot in my heart for Dr. Billy Graham.