As a Christmas gift, our Son #2 gave me A Prophet with Honor: The Billy Graham Story by William C. Martin, the 2018 commemorative update of the original biography published in 1991. It is, as they say, a “Good read.”
William C. Martin is an able writer, scholarly, fair, thorough, telling the story chinks-in-the-armor-and-all. The Rev. Billy Graham passed Feb 21, 2018, at 99, some 12 years after his wife, Ruth.
Given Rev. Billy Graham’s impact and religious significance worldwide in the 20th Century, I’ll always be glad I heard him in person at least once. It was July 1972, Cleveland Municipal Stadium, in the middle of my undergrad years when I was 19. We rode two hours from southeast Ohio up and back on Ohio’s I-77 in a no-AC “church bus”—meaning a repurposed ancient yellow school bus—with other Guernsey/Noble County, Ohio travelers.
I remember the packed stadium. Believe it or not, Rev. Graham preached from John 3:16, and I remember him using his trademark phrase, “The Bible says.” I also recall his later invitation to people to come forward and decide to accept Christ. He did this, then abruptly stopped talking while he stood with bowed head, an elbow in his opposite hand with fist under his chin, and several hundred walked the aisles responding to the “invitation.” Pretty interesting, amazing experience, one I am glad to remember.
I first read this book when it came out in 1991, so some of the read this time was familiar, but of course there’s more of Rev. Graham’s special life added in this edition and it was more than enjoyable to read again. Clearly God had his hand on this man’s life, even and especially through some human missteps along the way like getting “too close” to President Richard M. Nixon, only to be embarrassed by what emerged later. Dr. Graham in his humility owned it all, said publicly he’d made a mistake, and refocused his efforts on sharing the Gospel.
It’s more than a little interesting today to see his son Franklin Graham position himself so publicly and vigorously in association with President Donald Trump.
Whatever Rev. Graham’s missteps, he and his team avoided the “really big ones” through 50-60 years of public ministry. There was never a moral or financial scandal named among them. For Christian leaders this should not be remarkable, but in today’s terms, it is.
I highly recommend this book.
Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2019
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