Thousands, perhaps millions, of words have been written about the impact of Billy Graham’s life, especially in the last few days since he went home to be with the Lord on February 21. There’s little I can add other than a few of the precious memories from the 15 years I was privileged to work for him and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
(The news media refers to him as “Reverend Graham,” but we understood in his humility he did not feel worthy of that title. As he preferred, employees called him “Mr. Graham.”)
The organization was still based in Minnesota until 2003, and Mr. Graham had a small office in North Carolina near his home. Anytime he came to the Minneapolis office, he would take time to walk through the halls, stopping to shake hands, talk to, and thank as many employees as possible. While he was still physically able, he would also attend the annual employee picnic, where he would sit for hours to shake hands or be photographed with employees and their families.
To Billy Graham, every person was important, not only the world leaders he met but each employee and volunteer who helped him in his ministry. And the small boy walking on a remote road in Africa when Mr. Graham asked his driver to stop so he could get out and talk to the boy, who would grow up to become a Christian doctor in South Carolina.
Mr. Graham’s basic message, firmly rooted in John 3:16 and John 14:6 (“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”), never changed.
But the time he hung up on me?
Typically, I worked closely with his personal secretary on projects, and he provided his comments and direction through her. But one time while she was on vacation, I received a phone call from Mr. Graham himself. While he was telling me about the changes he wanted to make, I heard another phone ringing in the background. He asked me to hold on while he answered the other call. (I always imagined it to be the “red phone”–perhaps a direct line from the President or another world leader.) Next thing I heard was a dial tone. I sat, wondering whether to try to call him back, but shortly received another call. He apologized, explaining he had two phones on his desk and had accidentally hung up on me while trying to answer the other phone.
One thing I know, however, Billy Graham would be very clear about: God would never hang up on me. Or on you. He does not have a “red phone” for calls from more important people, because each individual who calls on the Name of Jesus is equally important to God. Billy Graham was welcomed into Heaven last week with angel choirs and throngs of people who were there because he preached the Gospel. He would want you to know that you can join him there when your life on earth ends, if you trust Jesus as the one Way.
As our country mourns and honors this great and humble servant of Christ, remember his message: at the foot of the Cross on which Jesus died, we are all equal.
For More Information
To learn more about Mr. Graham’s life and ministry, visit billygraham.org. To find out how you can be as certain of going to Heaven as Billy Graham was, please go to peacewithgod.net. It’s a decision that will change your life.