My First Encounter with Billy Graham
I was reared in a religious community that had become very legalistic and works oriented—and exclusive. We “alone had the truth.”
However, my dad began to understand salvation by grace in the 1930’s listening to Dr. Harry Ironside on a battery operated radio on our farm in Indiana. Though we continued to be a part of this religious community, I put my faith in Jesus Christ for salvation at age 16.
I too began to listen to Christian radio—actually WMBI coming from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. One day I heard that Youth for Christ—a ministry I knew nothing about that was directed primarily at young people—was sponsoring a Bible conference at Winona Lake Indiana—about 60 miles from our family farm.
Since I was growing in my faith, I got my parents permission to drive to this conference center—a place I’d never been before. As far as the members of my religious community were concerned, this was a “no no”—since we were not to have spiritual fellowship with anyone outside of our church group.
But my heart was resonating with the Bible teaching I was hearing on radio. Consequently, my brother and I slipped away surreptitiously and went to Winona Lake.
We slept in the car all night since we couldn’t afford a motel bill. And then the next morning we went to hear a very dynamic Youth for Christ evangelist. His name was Billy Graham! If I’m calculating correctly, he was 29 years old.
What he shared that day impacted my life and became a very important factor in encouraging me to enroll as a student at Moody Bible Institute—which was a decision that changed the whole direction of my life.
It was shortly after that that Billy conducted his crusade in Los Angeles—which began an incredible ministry around the world! I’m just one of multiplied millions who have been influenced in a life changing way by the ministry of Billy Graham—and I’m forever thankful!
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