Thirty Days of Thanks: Day 3~Two Men


. . continued from yesterday, but I just started at the beginning for 'ya ;)

Jeff and I are on the road.

We left Thursday afternoon to drive to Charleston, South Carolina and visit Josh. After seven hours of driving, we decided to call it a night and stay over in Charlotte, NC. On the way to our hotel we realized we were driving on the Billy Graham Parkway. Then we passed a sign for the Billy Graham Library.

I have a long history with Billy Graham. Along with millions of others who have been influenced by him, he is an important part of my spiritual history. My father met Jesus at the Billy Graham Crusade at Madison Square Gardens in 1957 when he was a teenager growing up in Brooklyn, NY.

We decided to check it out the next morning since it was so close. Best decision of the trip. 

Besides being beautiful, serene, and staffed with the warmest people you'll ever meet, the moment you walk into the big barn at the "foot of the cross" you are met with the love of God displayed through the Gospel story.

God's words are everywhere. On the rafters, the walls, in the presentations. It's the Billy Graham Library, but it's all about Billy Graham's savior, Jesus Christ.

Literally millions have heard about God's love for them through the message and ministry of Billy Graham. And who knows how many many more are the exponential fruit of his ministry as those millions have shared Jesus with others.

I'm one of those fruit.

There's a sign in the Library that illustrates the "genealogy" of Billy Graham. 

It begins with a Sunday school teacher who shared the Gospel with a shoe salesman named D.L. Moody. A pastor, student, ex-baseball player, and evangelist later, 16 year old Billy Graham heard the Gospel at a tent meeting and committed his life to following God.

Then at the 1957 Billy Graham Crusade at Madison Square Garden my 14 year old father-to-be heard the same message and committed his life to following God.

And under the influence of my father and mother, I committed my life to Jesus at the age of 7. I guess you could say Billy Graham is my spiritual grandfather.

As Jeff and I walked through the displays, there was an elderly man walking not far behind us. Honestly, I felt like he was following a little too close, and I was uncomfortable. But I chastised myself for being so fussy and thought perhaps he was there for a reason. Maybe he didn't know Jesus and, like us, was passing through Charlotte and decided to stop in out of curiosity. I whispered a half-hearted prayer for him.

We were sitting and watching one of the many short videos, when a black and white picture of Madison Square Garden flashed on the screen. The man leaned over toward us and excitedly said, "I was at that crusade!" He proceeded to tell us how he, his wife and brother-in-law came up from New Jersey to work as volunteers for what has been called "the greatest series of evangelistic meetings in history." 

It ran from May 15 through September 1, 1957. More than 2,000,000 persons attended. Millions more watched on TV. Over 56,000 came forward at the meetings as a declaration of their decision to follow Jesus.

He had volunteered at the same crusade where my father came to know Jesus. 

He shared how his wife, sister, and brother-in-law had passed away. "I'm the last one left," he said with a bittersweet smile. But his eyes were lit up. I imagine his heart was beating with the same rapid rhythm as mine and Jeff's. All three of us were being awakened again to the sovereign love of God and the power of the Gospel . . past, present, and future.

For I am not ashamed of the Gospel (good news) of Christ, for it is God's power working unto salvation [for deliverance from eternal death] to everyone who believes with a personal trust and a confident surrender and firm reliance, to the Jew first and also to the Greek,
~Romans 1:16

I listened with a mixture of surprise, delight, and gratitude to this man who, because of his love for Jesus (who he had happened to know for quite a long time) and willingness to serve, was a part of my father's salvation and my story.

We didn't even get his name. And while the world may know and recognize the name of Billy Graham, in Heaven this humble servant and Billy Graham will share in the same reward for their faithfulness. His face and flaming eyes are etched in my mind. They speak to me of the importance of every part of the body of Christ and how they all come together under the head, which is Jesus. 

One man proclaimed His name from a pulpit before millions. Another man handed out programs, pointed people to the restroom, and maybe prayed with a new believer. And millions believed.

I suppose the elderly man from New Jersey is my spiritual grandfather too. 

And my heart whispers a whole-hearted "Thank you."

Whispering thanks again . . .

~ the faithful men and women, many I've never known, who paved the way for my walk with Jesus

~ the forever good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (John 3:16)

~ bold leaders and humble servants

~ God's surprises

~ my mom and dad's faithfulness to God and influence in my life

I'm celebrating Thirty Days of Thanks by posting my list of thanks here daily for 30 days. You can join me every day or any day by posting your thanks in the comments, by posting at Winsome Woman on Facebook, and/or posting on your own FB wall! Join me?