FROM THE PASTOR
Last Wednesday, February 21,2018, the Reverend Billy Graham made his transition to his heavenly home. He was 99 years old on Earth, but now he’s alive forevermore. As of 2008, Billy Graham’s estimated lifetime audience, including radio and television broadcasts, topped 2.2 billion. That means that approximately 2.2 billion people have heard the gospel from Billy Graham’s mouth. That’s hard to wrap your mind around, isn’t it? Billy Graham has shared the gospel with more people than anyone else in history, but do you know who shared the gospel with him?
It all began with a volunteer Sunday school teacher named Edward Kimball. Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of him. Most people haven’t. Kimball was a Sunday school teacher who not only prayed for the hyper boys in his class but also sought to win each one to the Lord personally. If you’ve ever taught the Bible to young boys, you know that the experience can often be like herding cats. One young man didn’t seem to understand Kimball’s message, so Edward went to the shoe store where the young man was stocking shelves. Kimball confronted him with the need for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and that day the boy, Dwight L. Moody, received Jesus Christ as his Savior. In his lifetime Moody touched two continents for God, with thousands professing Christ through his ministry. Some in our church have even attended the college that bears his name.
The story doesn’t end there. Actually that’s where it begins. Under Moody, another man’s heart was touched for God, Wilbur Chapman. Chapman became the evangelist who preached to thousands. One day a professional ball player had a day off and attended one of Chapman’s meetings, and there that Billy Sunday, outfielder for the Philadelphia Phillies, was converted.
Sunday quit baseball to work first with Chapman’s team and then holding his own crusades. At one of those crusades a young man named Mordecai Ham came to Christ. He was a scholarly, dignified gentleman who wasn’t above renting a hearse and parading it through the streets advertising his meetings. When Ham came to Charlotte, North Carolina, a sandy-haired, lanky young man, then in high school, vowed that he wouldn’t go hear him preach, but Billy Frank, as he was called by his family, did eventually go.
That night Billy Frank went and was intrigued by what he heard. Returning another night, he responded to the invitation and was converted. Billy Frank eventually became known as Billy Graham, the evangelist who preached to more people than any other person who ever lived, including the Apostle Paul.
But the story doesn’t stop there, either. You see, it was through Dr. Graham’s ministry that I became a Christian in 1969. God has given me the great privilege of sharing Christ as an evangelist and pastor in over 40 states and 18 countries around the world, and I don’t know what He has for me next.
If you’re like most people, you’ve served in some capacity in the church and wondered at times if you were making a real difference or not. Maybe you’ve thought about quitting because you didn’t think you couldn’t see any fruit. Next time you’re tempted to give up, please remember Edward Kimball, whose persistence and faithfulness was tremendously honored by the Lord. The story would have looked very differently if Edward Kimball didn’t take his Saturday to seek out young Dwight Moody.
Someone once said, “You can count the apples on a tree, but only God knows how many apples are in a single seed.” I’m grateful for each person in the chain who helped me become a messenger of Jesus Christ. You never know the impact you’re having.
Think about that,