The grandchildren of evangelist Billy Graham have long been influenced by their famous “Daddy Bill.” But the children of daughter Virginia “Gigi” Graham wondered what kind of influence he had on other people — those who attended his crusades or who watched him on TV.
The end result: “Thank you, Billy Graham,” a new book culled from the hundreds of comments that admirers have left on a website the grandchildren created. The responses came from 19 countries and a wide range of experiences, from ordinary people and family members who were influenced by the now-95-year-old Graham.
“Some of the most amazing stories that I have read in that book come from some of the most unlikely of individuals — people who encountered God when they weren’t even planning on it or expecting it or even, quite frankly, looking for it,” said Basyle “Boz” Tchividjian, executive director of GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) and a Religion News Service blogger. “I think the more stories you read in this book, the less focused you become on Billy Graham and the more focused you become on the God of Billy Graham.”
Here are excerpts from the book:
I have been in the room when my grandfather has called and spoken to the president of the United States and then got up to pull the kitchen table chair out for the housekeeper, who was regularly invited to join them for dinner. This is just one small example of many. I have found that my grandparents are as sincerely interested and excited about having conversations with “everyday people,” such as taxi drivers, housekeepers, waitresses, etc., as they are with presidents, queens, and popes.
–Basyle “Boz” Tchividijian
The Billy Graham crusade televised program was always special to Mama and Daddy. In the late 1950s, my family would gather in our den to watch the program on our small black-and-white television. This was considered church time. A time to worship. And my parents believed we should behave exactly as if we were attending the crusade in person. Mama said it would be sacrilegious to shell butter beans while Billy Graham told us what God had directed him to tell us.
I believe it was in 1949 when I heard Mr. Graham speak at the Maranatha Bible Conference campgrounds. … That evening, he spoke in the tabernacle, but before the service he came back to where I was sitting and addressed the pastors sitting behind me. As a thirteen-year-old boy, I was interested to hear what he had to say. He made a request of those pastors that they pray for him, because he was tempted with pride. That showed me an insight into this man’s cautious walk with God. I went on to become a pastor myself, and I often remembered these words of concern. Incidentally, the first year he spoke in the tabernacle, it was not filled; but after the Los Angeles crusade, he spoke again and people were standing outside and sitting on cars. Thanks for a wonderful example of a man of God and for some most pleasant memories.
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SOURCE: Religion News Service
Adelle M. Banks