What #BillyGraham Meant to Me

Journal entry, January 16th, 2018

I’m not one to put people on pedestals. Even as a teenager I never had posters of celebrities on my walls. I guess fame in of itself does not impress me and I see people as BGEAinK.C.04-56just people—flesh and blood. I see the polls online asking if you could meet or spend time with any of the people they list, who would you choose. Their  lists are comprised of several Bible characters, great classic Christian authors, or other historic heroic leaders who have since died. It’s always a tough, if not impossible choice. But my heart says the one I most want to meet is not on their lists and we are blessed that God has graced us with still having my choice among us—Rev. Billy Graham.

It is one of my dreams to meet Billy Graham, but I fear I would be wasting his time as the only thing I’d probably be able to say is thank you. But maybe that’s appropriate when you are in the presence of greatness like his. Perhaps it not so much a time to talk, but a time to listen if he graced me with some of his wisdom—content to sit with him for a moment and just be—just enjoy being in the company of Billy and Jesus. When someone is as close to Jesus as Billy is, you can be sure when you are in his presence you are in Jesus’ presence too, and Jesus said, “Where two or three or gathered in my name there I am in their midst.” 

                   Journal entry, February 21st, 2018

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The day I’ve feared for so long has come and the world is a little darker for it. I cried today. I cried for me, I cried for you. I cried for the world for our great loss. But I did not cry for Billy. On this sad but jubilant day I’m sorry for myself and the world, but rejoicing for Billy as he is welcomed home by his Savior whom he so faithfully loved, served, and proclaimed.

Billy Graham was raised on his parent’s dairy farm in Charlotte, North Carolina during the Great Depression. He gave his life to Christ just shy of his sixteenth birthday. He preached on six continents in 84 countries. He prayed withBilly_2 and gave spiritual counsel to our presidents and leaders worldwide. Through his crusades, simulcasts and evangelistic rallies he preached to an estimated 215 million people in 185 countries and touched millions more lives via television, radio, film, internet, and through his books. Billy reached out to minister the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the least in society and God granted him audience before rulers. He was humble so God raised him to honor.

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. James 4:10 (NKJV

VIDEO: Billy Graham: One Man. One Purpose. One Message. A photo tribute journey through the life of Billy Graham.

This is the inscription on Billy Graham’s grave marker:

Billy Graham November 7, 1918 – February 21, 2018

 Preacher of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ

John 14:16

That’s it—for the man who was the greatest evangelist in history.

Billy and his beloved wife, Ruth, were both buried in caskets made by inmates of the Angola State Penitentiary in Louisiana. That man is determined to continue preaching to us, even from his grave.

VIDEO: Making Billy Graham’s Casket

Billy Graham was greatness wrapped in humility, which is what real greatness looks like. Like Jesus.

The same man known for his graciousness and humility is also known for his righteous passion. Like Jesus toppling the tables in the temple, Billy wasn’t afraid to fly in the face of cultural norms and injustices such as communism, apartheid, and segregation. He ripped down the ropes segregating blacks from whites thus hosting the first truly integrated revival meetings, and was friend and co-laborer with Martin Luther King jr. .

The deepest problems of the human race are spiritual in nature…The problem is the human heart, which God alone can change. —Billy Graham

Had it not been for the ministry of my good friend Dr. Billy Graham, my work in the civil rights movement would not have been as successful as it has been. —Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Click here to watch the rest of: Taking Down the Ropes of Segregation

Billy was a cup of comfort and a nod to can-do in a harsh and discouraging world.

A journalist once set out to investigate Billy, but found nothing to discredit him. The journalist’s conclusion about Billy Graham was, “He is a man without shadows.”

Nevertheless, judging by a few articles and social media posts I’ve read, some have formed opinions about Billy based on parts of stories about him rather than the whole, the beginning, rather than the conclusion of a matter. Billy wasn’t perfect, he made some mistakes, but he admitted his shortcomings and made amends. He kept himself accountable.

Christian means Christ follower. Those who make Jesus their Lord and are governed by His Word, the Bible, will sometimes find themselves on the opposite side of issues than secular culture. God sets boundaries because He loves us and for our good. He is the definer of morality. But know this, though our beliefs differ from some, that does not mean we disdain or wish ill on those who chose to use their free will to live otherwise. It distresses me that some don’t understand it’s possible to disagree with people and still love them. Because we love people, we cannot support behavior we believe harmful to them. Because we love God we strive to be faithful to His Word and will for our lives. Christians are just sinners saved by the Savior’s grace, trying to share Jesus, the author of and answer to life. 

Billy hated sin and how it destroys lives, but he loved people. Jesus hates sin, but He loves the sinner. He gave His life for us. 

“If you don’t remember anything else I say, remember this—God loves you. God loves you. God loves you.” —Billy Graham

Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments. Do you love Me? Feed My sheep.”

Jesus said, “Go into the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.”

Billy was faithful.

He was the salute to my Sunday mornings when I was a little girl.

I was raised in Jamaica by my grandparents until I was nine years old. On Sunday mornings I’d run into their room, jump onto their bed and curl up at the foot of it. Grandpa would reach for the knob on the old wooden radio that sat atop his dresser and with a twist and a click, it burst to life with— “This is Billy Graham coming to you live…” and George Beverly Shea singing, How Great Thou Art, and we’d listen to Billy preach before we went to church.

George Beverly Shea, How Great Thou Art, 1969

I vowed  growing up that I wouldn’t fall into the same pit some of my loved ones fell into. I didn’t want to repeat their mistakes, but as hard as I tried to climb that mountain it was like a landslide under me. At 20 years old my life was in shambles and as I stood weeping I heard the words recorded in the Bible that Job’s wife had spoken to him, “Curse God and die!” It wasn’t the first time suicide had knocked on my door. I fell to my knees. “No!” I said. “God I’m not going to curse You. I still believe in You. Help me.”

Later, I found a Billy Graham Decision Magazine in my mailbox and I remembered Billy’s preaching when I was a little girl and how it comforted me. The address label indicated the magazine owner lived on the other side of the complex. “Hello,” I said. “I have your Billy Graham magazine. But I’d like to read it for a minute before I give it to you, if you don’t mind.”  He chuckled and we arranged a time to meet by the pool which separated our buildings, but I never showed up. I was so caught up reading, his knock startled me. I opened the door to meet the gentle smile of Rev. George Horton, a Baptist minister.

Billy was a stepping stone on my road to salvation. He was someone sure in a shaky world because he stood on the Rock, the foundation of all eternity.

I just wanted to say thank you for showing us what grace looks like, what faithfulness, righteousness and humility looks like.

IMG_2408Billy Graham was a light in the dark, a night light of sorts. A steady reference, a clarion call in the midst of an unsteady world of shifting sands. He was faithful to God and faithful to his call to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and now he has received his reward. The dawn of a new morning has broken on Heaven’s horizon for Billy Graham.

Our life is a vapor—shorter for some than others. I have a question for you. When you step out of this world and into eternity will you find yourself at Heaven’s or Hell’s gates? Is there eternal life or eternal night waiting on the other side for you? The choice is yours. God longs for you. 

They say you should use scripture sparingly when you write. But the Word of God is alive and powerful and able to accomplish way more than any words I could ever write. 

“I have found that when I present the simple message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with authority, quoting the very Word of God—He takes that message and drives it supernaturally into the human heart.” —Billy Graham

All your goodness won’t get you to Heaven. Jesus said our our righteousness is as filthy rags.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God Romans 3:23 (NKJV)

Short is short. We all miss the mark.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. John 14:6 (NKJV)

Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. John 8:34 (NKJV)

But no matter your sin, it’s not enough to keep God from loving you. He wants to give you a new life, destiny, peace and joy.

IMG_2409For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 (NKJV)

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. John 3:17 (NKJV)

For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. Romans 5:6 (NKJV)

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16 (NKJV)

Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeedJohn 8:36 (NKJV)

“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:18 (NKJV)

Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3 (NKJV)

Unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Luke 13:3 (NKJV)

“You ask, ‘What is repentance?’ Repentance means that you say to God, ‘I am a sinner, I’m sorry for my sins, I’m willing to turn from my sins. But Lord, You have to help me to turn. I’ve tried so many times to give up things I know that are wrong, and I just can’t do it.’

Then, by faith, receive Jesus, who died on the cross for you. Open your heart and say, “Yes, lord Jesus, Come in. I’m ready to follow you.'” —Billy Graham

that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9 (NKJV)

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. John 5:24 (NKJV)

VIDEO: 1957 Billy Graham How to live the Christian Life 

A Prayer of Commitment

“Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite you to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. In your name. Amen.”  — BillyGraham.org/Commitment

Rachael_M_Colby_Tattoo_it_on_Your_Heart_Christian_Fellowship_Ministeries_CFM
Click here if you need a church home.

If you are committing your life to Christ, the Billy Graham Evangelical Association would like to know, and so would I. You may send me an email via the Contact by Email box or leave a reply in the Comment box at the end of this post.

You may contact the Billy Graham Evangelical Association here:              1-877-2GRAHAM/ 1-877-247-2426                                                        BillyGraham.org/Commitment

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“Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.” -Billy Graham

Yes, Billy. This world is not my home. It’s just the road to where I’m going. Heaven is my home, and Jesus is my prize.

Precious in the sight of the Lord Is the death of His saints. Psalms 116:15 (NKJV)

Well done, thou good and faithful servant. 

I’ll see you on the other side, Billy.

© 2018  Rachael M Colby     Tattoo It On Your Heart

An Invitation from The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

“God has used the life and ministry of Billy Graham to impact the lives of millions around the world. Perhaps you have a testimony about Mr. Graham’s ministry. What did Mr. Graham mean to you?” To share your stories and condolences on the Billy Graham Evangelical Association’s site click HERE

More Videos and Links to Resources

Billy Graham’s, Steps to Peace With God

Blog post by author Jerry Jenkins who helped Billy write his autobiography, Just as I am Precious Memories: Billy Graham 1918-2018

Remembering Billy Graham Special- The Tami Jackson Show with Jerry Jenkins

Just as I Am: The Autobiography of Billy Graham

Billy Graham A Biography of America’s Greatest Evangelist, Terry Whalin

Books by Billy Graham

In His Own Words: Billy Graham Talks About Heaven

Touching Moments from Billy Graham’s Funeral Service


Billy Graham: A Life Remembered – Billy Graham TV Special

Billy Graham’s 99th Birthday: Notable Reflections

A Tribute to Billy Graham, The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

Billy Graham Audio Archives: Over 1,600 Sermons spanning over 60 years of ministry

https://billygraham.org/tv-and-radio/radio/audio-archives/

Billy Graham Educational Resources (Lesson plans for elementary school through high school.)

Notable Reflections

https://memorial.billygraham.org/notable-reflections/

The chain reaction of influence and conversions of men who became preachers and leading to Billy Graham’s conversion (Toward end of post.)

Christianity Today magazine, founded by Billy Graham: April 2018 issue, Billy Graham 1981-2018

Decision magazine (Founded by Billy Graham)

Billy Graham Evangelistic Association https://billygraham.org/

An Invitation from The Billy graham Evangelistic Association: 

“God has used the life and ministry of Billy Graham to impact the lives of millions around the world. Perhaps you have a testimony about Mr. Graham’s ministry. What did Mr. Graham mean to you?” To share your stories and condolences on the Billy Graham Evangelical Association’s site click HERE.

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3 thoughts on “What #BillyGraham Meant to Me”

  1. A wonderful tribute, Rachael. It’s true, setting people up on a pillar isn’t something we should do. Even Billy said that others shouldn’t esteem him as they do. But like you, I always held him in high regard. I remember in middle school, our teachers asked us to tell the class who their hero was. She went from student to student, asking them to simply name the person for the class. All the others listed actors, athletes, and humanitarians. When my turn came, I simply said, “Billy Graham.”
    No one commented about it. I don’t recall any nods of affirmation. But what I do recall in the moment was that it didn’t matter. Because I regarded Billy Graham as heroic because he did what I strove for (and am still woefully insufficient at). He made Christ his everything. In all he did, he sought Christ. And of all the people I knew at that time, he was the one example I could think of who demonstrated true love for God and love for others.

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  2. Rachael, wow. Grateful to read the way Billy Graham impacted you. Brought me nearly to tears at one point. How much time you must have spent curating all those links, too! (I finally read Jerry Jenkins’ post about Mr. Graham, also.) Thank you for sharing your heart!

    Liked by 1 person

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