My mother practiced her choir music from a small, blue music book. This book was The Billy Graham Crusade Choir book, and she was thrilled to be able to participate in the 1971 Dallas Crusade choir. Although I was only ten-years old, I had been taking piano lessons for about four years at the time. I loved to borrow that book from Mother, sit down at the piano, and play the hymns contained within the music book. “Just as I Am,” “Wonderful the Grace of Jesus,” and “To God be the Glory,” filled Texas Stadium that night, and I was privileged to sit beside my mother as a part of the choir. Cliff Barrows directed the music, George Beverly Shea sang a special solo, and then, Billy Graham preached to over 42,000 people. He assured the audience Jesus loved them, and they could one day go to Heaven if they followed Him. He encouraged the crowd to repent of their sins, seek forgiveness, ask Jesus into their hearts as their Savior, and follow Him as their Lord. At this point, I remember the choir singing “Just as I am, without one plea, but that Thy blood was shed for me…” and people responded to Rev. Graham’s plea for them to “Come forward.” Many people accepted Christ that night and every other time Billy Graham preached.
The Dallas Crusade at Texas Stadium was not the only time I was fortunate to hear Reverend Billy Graham preach. I remember many times during my childhood, where my family gathered around the television to watch other crusades. There always seemed to be a reverence in our house during this time as we listened to his simple message that was powerful, poignant, and profound. I, myself, had accepted Christ a few years prior to the crusade experiences, and I loved hearing about the love of Jesus.
Years later in 2002, I traveled to Texas Stadium again, for what would be Billy Graham’s last time to preach in Texas. Once again, people came from near and far to fill the stadium to capacity. The music was moving, the preaching was passionate, and the altar response was riveting as people walked the “aisle” to confess, repent, and believe.
Mr. Graham was known for saying, “I look forward to death, with great anticipation. I am looking forward to seeing God face to face. And that could happen any day.”
Today, February 21, 2018, Billy Graham changed his address from Montreat, North Carolina, to Heaven, where he received his reward of seeing Christ face to face and heard the words, “Well done, Good and Faithful Servant!”