I Remember Billy Graham

I went forward during one of his early Crusades. I remember when he became a member of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas. He said he also needed a pastor, and that was Dr. W A. Criswell, whose preaching I grew up under.

We had a youth church when I was a teenager at First Baptist. Billy Graham was our preacher in the youth church one Sunday. It impressed us boys that he had on red socks. Several years later, I walked with Mr. Graham as he left our church. I think he was headed to his hotel. We discussed an idea I had called “The Moment of Decision.” It was built on his “Hour of Decision” radio broadcast. I edited one of his broadcasts where he said, “The Gospel can be summed up in 25 words. For God so loved the World, that He gave His only begotten Son. That whosoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life. That in a nutshell, is all you need to be born-again.” I edited that and added an intro and music. Mr. Graham told me to call Cliff Barrows. The idea wasn’t accepted by the agency handling the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. But the idea stuck with me, and I became Special Projects Director for the Baptist Radio and Television Commission. And produced similar programming that ran on over a thousand radio stations.

I know Billy Graham was an influence on my life.

I remember his Crusade in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. This was in 1953. Seating started out on one just one side of the stadium. By the last night of the Crusade, the stadium was full – 75 thousand. Candles had been passed out to everyone. It was a remarkable experience. From one candle to the next, to the next, etc., until everyone’s candle was lit. During this time, the stadium lights were turned off. A picture of that appeared in newspapers all over the World. Billy Graham never went back to a tent revival.

For years I’ve taught filmmaking. One film I always showed was Citizen Kane. That film about William Randolph Hearst is accepted as one of the most influential films and frequently rated number one, at least in the top five. The connection with Mr. Graham? Billy had a Tent Revival in downtown Los Angeles. He called the tent, The Canvas Cathedral. Some women praying for The Greater Los Angeles Revival called Mr. Hearst to get some publicity. Hearst answered the phone. Which was unheard of for a Media Mogul like Mr. Hearst. He sent a two-word telegram to all his papers, “Puff Graham.” Newspaper photographers and reporters showed up at the Revival that night. Billy Graham became front-page news. (Look up Hearst Media – it was and is Huge)! So all my classes, public and private university students, heard about Mr. Graham and John 3:16.

The anniversary of Billy Graham’s death was February 21. I remember Billy Graham. He is not here anymore. But I know where he is. He has joined that great cloud of witnesses. I know someday I’ll see him again.

May the Lord give comfort to his family and his team.

Published by Spiritual Wanderings

Paul Potter is Author/Teacher for Eagles Rest Ministry. Tanya, his wife, and Paul live in Lufkin, Texas. He was the Founding Director, School of Ministry, Church Alive University, Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is an ordained minister. As a retired, tenured University Professor, he has served as faculty for the University of North Texas, Stephen F. Austin State University, Xavier University, University of Oklahoma, Angelo State University, and Hardin-Simmons University. He has preached in churches in Texas, Alaska, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Ohio, Kentucky, and pastor’s conferences in Ohio and Alaska. His first major job out of the Air Force was broadcasting as an announcer, journalist, director, and producer in radio and TV. He was producer and announcer of nationally syndicated The Baptist Hour, Master Control, and other radio programs.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: