As an evangelist to women, I have always been inspired by the evangelistic ministry of Rev. Billy Graham. His devotion to preach the gospel throughout his lifetime most certainly evidenced a man with a passion to make Christ known. As we mourn the loss of the beloved Rev. Billy Graham, we think about the great impact he made for the Gospel and the wonderful man he was:
Did you know we just recently celebrated the 99th birthday of Billy Graham? What comes to mind when you hear the name of this evangelistic legend? For me, I recall was a girl attending a Billy Graham Crusade held in a massive stadium filled with people.
After hearing Graham powerfully preach the gospel I knew he was being used by God to call sinners to salvation. Thousands flocked forward as the choir sang, Just as I am without one plea, but that Thy blood was shed for me…
Years later in San Antonio, Texas, my husband and I took our youth group to hear Billy Graham for one of his final Crusades. I was in awe as Graham shared simply and clearly the call to repentance and surrender to Christ. I thought, who is this man who speaks with such authority? How did God bring him to this place?
Recently, I did a little research on Billy Graham’s story and I’m excited to share with you:
10 Things You Didn’t Know about Billy Graham.
1. Billy Frank (his name as a boy) was raised on a dairy farm near Charlotte, North Carolina. He was the oldest of three children so many of the farming chores landed on him. Seven days a week, morning and evening it was Billy’s job to milk the cows, which meant waking at 2:30 each morning.
For two hours Billy would milk twenty cows, and then shovel away the manure. Once he completed those tasks and fed the cows fresh hay, it was time for Billy Frank to head back to the house for his own breakfast.
Can you imagine how tired this young boy must have been? When he got to school there were times he could barely keep his eyes opened, but a good game of baseball on their lunch break always revived Billy for the rest of the afternoon’s classes.
2. His mother’s godly influence. Billy Graham’s mother was a devout Christian. For the early part of his upbringing it was apparent to Billy that his mother, not his father, was the one most concerned with training the children in religious matters.
For example, his mom was the one who insisted the family regularly attend church each Sunday. And if for some reason they could not attend, she would gather all three of her children around after dinner to read them a Bible story.
Because his mother understood the importance of hiding God’s word in her children’s hearts, each day she assigned a Bible verse to the children that they were to memorize while walking to and from school. Wow––right? Think of the countless souls saved because of this godly mom’s influence in the life of her son. If you’re a mom, please ponder Billy’s mom’s example. Are you doing all you can to give your kids a godly foundation? (For help, my book: Moms Raising Sons to Be Men is a great resource.)
3. He was a wiggle-worm. As a five-year-old boy Billy’s parents brought him to hear the famous evangelist, Billy Sunday. Sunday had once played center field for the “Chicago Whitestockings” baseball team. Although Billy loved baseball, all he remembers about that day was how long Billy Sunday preached, how extremely hot it was, and how much he wiggled throughout the whole sermon. Billy’s father had warned him to stop wiggling or the evangelist would call out his name from the pulpit. Even still it was all Billy could do not to fidget in his seat.
Billy’s mom called him a “mover” and had once even taken him to the doctor to try and discern what was the matter with Billy that he had such a hard time sitting still. The doctor assured Mrs. Graham that her son was perfectly normal, and encouraged her not to worry because, “It’s just the way he’s built.” (So if you’re the mom of a wiggle-worm don’t lose heart. God can use kids who fidget to do amazing things for the Kingdom!)
4. Witnessing his grandmother’s death had a profound influence on Billy Frank Graham. When Billy was only 13 years old his father’s ranch hand came in the middle of the day to pick up him and his sister from school. Since this never happened, Billy knew something was terribly wrong at home.
Billy was sad to learn his grandmother was ill to the point of death. Billy liked Grandma Coffee and enjoyed when she would tell him stories about the American Civil War. Her husband, Billy’s grandfather who died before he was born, had fought in that war loosing both a leg and an eye in battle.
His little sister, Catherine, reminded Billy that their grandmother would soon be going to heaven to be with Jesus. As the family sat around Grandma’s bedside she bolted up in her bed declaring that she could see Jesus with his arms outstretched toward her. And with Him was her husband––completely whole with both eyes and legs! With that final declaration, Grandma Coffee breathed her last breath.
5. Witnessing the transformation in his father after a near death experience was a pivotal point in Billy’s own pursuit of spiritual matters. Soon after his grandmother died Billy’s father’s face and jaw were crushed and disfigured from an accident on the farm. The family did not expect him to live.
As time went on and his father’s health did not improve Billy worried he would have to quit school to help take care of the family farm. However, Billy’s dad did recover. His face would forever be deformed by the accident, but Billy couldn’t help but notice that his dad’s spiritual condition was transformed as well.
Soon Billy’s parents were holding prayer rallies at their farm. Billy was always quick to find an excuse not to attend the meeting. One night Billy overheard his dad telling his mother how a man named, Vernon Patterson had prayed for God to raise up out of Charlotte, NC someone who would preach the gospel to the ends of the earth. Billy was skeptical that God could answer such a request.
*This article by Rhonda Stoppe first appeared as a slideshow at: Crosswalk.com
Rhonda Stoppe is the NO REGRETS WOMAN. With more than20 years experience of helping women break free from regrets that hold them back. I could have listened to Rhonda talk all night, is what women say about Rhonda’s enthusiastic, humorous, transparent teaching, and zeal as an evangelist to women. She’s committed to fulfill the Titus 2:4 commission by mentoring, teaching and writing books that are inspiring, grounded in Scripture and easy to read––like you're visiting with a friend over coffee. Rhonda appears on radio programs such as: Focus on the Family, FamilyLifeToday, FamilyTalk & speaks at women’s events, Pastor’s Wives Conferences, MOPs and homeschool conventions. God is using her evangelism conferences to bring women to Christ. Rhonda ministers along side Steve, her pastor-husband, at First Baptist Church of Patterson, California. Together they write books and speak at their No Regrets Marriage Conferences, but their favorite ministry is their family. They have four grown children and nine grandchildren. Rhonda's newest book, Real Life Romance is a delightful compilation of love stories to help you believe in life long love. Pre-Order Steve & Rhonda's new book, The Marriage Mentor (Releases June 2018 via Harvest House Publishers.). For more visit: http://www.NoRegretsWoman.com