Filling Billy Graham's Shoes

"On a cold November night in 1983, 31-year-old Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham, was asked to preach for the first time in his life. Longtime friend and evangelist John Wesley White urged Franklin to share the pulpit for one night. To Graham, whose job as the head of relief organization Samaritan's Purse often put him in bullet-dodging, life and death situations, the task was a daunting one. Not only did he have to overcome the pressure of following in his father's mighty footsteps, but he also had to overcome a rebellious past that included drinking, smoking, and running from God. 

Franklin reluctantly accepted the invitation and preached that night, with surprising results, especially for the son of Billy Graham. Not one of the 1,000 people in attendance responded when Graham issued the call for them to "come forward" and give their lives to Christ. Following that disheartening experience, Graham swore he'd never preach again.

 

But White felt sure Franklin had a gift like his father's and finally persuaded him to preach again in 1989 at an evangelistic Festival in Juneau, Alaska. This time, the people responded. "They packed the place, drunks and prostitutes," said White. "He gave the invitation and they poured down. It was a miracle, and he knew it."

 Since then, Franklin has led as many as 5 evangelistic Festivals each year for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA). To date, he has led more than 100 Festivals in locations from Wichita, Kansas, to Sydney, Australia, speaking to more than 3.4 million people. While he preached his largest Festival to date in Peru, speaking to 207,000 people, Graham is committed to visiting many smaller areas where his father's crusades normally would not go."

It's interesting - Franklin Graham, someone most of us know as an anointed preacher and Christian leader at an earlier point of his life was not sure this evangelism thing was for him.  He had big shoes to fill ... Billy Graham's.  Maybe you feel like you have big shoes to fill?  Whether it's a relative or a mentor or a boss who you look up to and would never dare think God could use you too.  Franklin dared to step out in 1983, but based on results, failed miserably.  Maybe you've stepped out for God, but felt like a failure based on the results?  The good news is that John Wesley White convinced Franklin again ... and the rest is history.  Step into your history today, allow God to use you!

 Note to Christian Leaders, especially Youth Workers:

The reason this is relevant for me is that I have been given the opportunity recently to work full time for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association towards a program reaching through the heartland of America and up the Mississippi River all the way to Minneapolis called Rock the River.  It will include fantastic training opportunities for students, adults and church workers to be trained in evangelism, discipleship and the Christian life and dozens of Community Service Projects.  The culmination of the Mpls program is an outreach for youth at Harriet Island Park on August 16th, where Franklin Graham will be sharing the Gospel several times mixed between a half dozen popular recording artists.  The vision for this program will be given to interested Sr. Pastors, church staff and Youth Pastors on Thursday, March 12th.  This launch event will be held at the Sheraton Hotel off 494 & 100 from 11:30a-1:30p.  Lunch will be catered and a Christian worship artist will be there to lead us in a special worship time.  Several key leaders from the BGEA will be with us to share the heart behind this youth focused outreach.  If you are interested in attending there should be a letter from Franklin Graham arriving at your church or ministry office with instructions on how to RSVP.  If you don't happen to see that, please feel free to contact JoAnn at our office at (612)926-8512.  Also, definitely feel free to spread the word to your friends and youth worker networks you know of.

Faithfully filling others shoes along with you.