Earlier this morning, I wrote a blog for YWAM Tyler in honor of Billy Graham’s 99th birthday (which I’ve included below if you haven’t read it yet). Billy lived his life traveling the globe to share the Good News of Jesus Christ, and many are citizens of heaven today because of his witness. Amy and I have committed our lives to sharing this Good News with others as well. Interestingly enough, my own faith journey began years ago in response to hearing Mr. Graham preach a message on forgiveness. It’s a message that is timeless and unchanging … one I plan to never stop sharing myself.
“But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus–the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.” Acts 20:24
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You are loved!
Just As I Am
I sat down in the living room after tuning the dial on our television set to the number my Dad requested. Before remote controls you actually had to get up and dial turn the selector to the station you desired. The picture showed a man standing on a platform with literally hundreds of thousands of people listening to what he was talking about. I was only five years old. The man speaking on the TV was Billy Graham.
Since it was late in the evening, I snuggled up on the sofa and listened as intently as my parents to the message being broadcast across America. The message was quite simple. Simple enough for even a young boy like me to grasp. My take away from the preaching, as a five year old, was I needed forgiveness for my sins.
I can’t tell you every thought which crossed my little brain that evening. What I can say is the Gospel message, delivered through that TV set, changed my life forever.
In classic form Billy Graham had his partner in ministry lead the massive audience in a song concluding his call to action. As “Just As I Am” began to play, the audience flowed from the upper decks of the coliseum to the ground level to pray. My heart was racing and I knew God was getting my attention as much as any other person sitting in the live venue.
The song went on and it was time for me to jump into bed. I turned to my father and asked him if he would tuck me in. I sat on the side of my bed with my father to my left, and I told him I needed to ask God to forgive me of my sins. Gently, my dad asked me to kneel down next to the bed for us to pray together. I hardly knew what to say, but the words came clearly and sincerely, as I asked God to forgive me and give me a clean heart. I understood in a simple way, Jesus’ death on the cross was my salvation.
The beginning of my Christian journey began in that very hour. Over the past forty-three years, I have come to know God better through many life experiences. I’ve even had multiple opportunities to give the same message I heard as young boy on that TV set. This is the Gospel that people would believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. The message hasn’t changed from the day Jesus told his first disciples in Luke 24:47 that this message of forgiveness of sins should be preached to the whole world.
Evangelism, sharing our faith with others, is the catalyst for Christians around the world to see God transform lives. The Gospel is good news to suffering individuals, hurting families, and broken communities.
May of 2016, I was on outreach with YWAM Tyler’s School of Evangelism in Alaska. Our team planned an event for the entire community of this little fishing village to come together to hear Good News. We shared God’s love with this community whose families have struggled with finances, depression, substance abuse, and broken relationships. Jesus brings hope wherever He is shared. Praying with these beautiful people at the end of our message was truly a special moment.
Yesterday, the world celebrated the 99th birthday of Billy Graham and the legacy he has left us. In similar fashion, YWAM has taken up the challenge to share the Gospel with every tribe and language group on the planet for the past sixty years. It’s incredible to partner with a global group of people who desire to share Jesus with the world.
When I quiet my mind, I think I can hear the altar call song playing again. This time though it’s for the thousands across our globe who will respond to Jesus with, “Just as I am … I come.”
“We all rejoice in the way God has blessed this organization [YWAM] in reaching people all over the world for the Lord Jesus Christ. Keep up the good work. You have my support and my prayers.” ~ Billy Graham