My Week with Billy Graham

Published by Paul on

God’s Man

My life was about to change.  It was May 1976, the second event in the new Seattle Kingdome.  The first event was a soccer match featuring the famous, Pele.  Coming to Seattle was Billy Graham for a week of sharing love and the gospel with all sides of society in the Puget Sound Region.  Little did I know at that time that the biggest crowd to ever attend an event at the Kingdome would be 80,000+ the night Johnny Cash sang a hymn or two at the invite of Mr. Graham.

As a relatively new believer, and businessman, I had volunteered to be part of the hundreds of pre-event servants preparing the way for perhaps the greatest evangelist of all time.  Little did I know that I would be in the same room not only with the man,  but the internationally and very popular teen Christian musician, Evie Tornquist.

I learned 400 volunteers a night were required to process the paperwork related to people who made a first-time commitment to Jesus Christ.  A letter was received by an individual within 2 days (with no errors, perfectly typed) and a church in their area was notified of their new interest in God.  The Crusade was a model of communication with perfection required , that would put for profit companies to shame.

As the volunteer Operations Committee Supervisor, I was to feed 400 volunteer workers a night, find 100 typewriters for workers, and secure all administrative supplies.  I was taken aback when the Crusade staff member said, “This is a big & busy job, and BTW, you have no funding (first thought was loaves and fishes).  Little did I know when I asked my sister to help me that week, that another volunteer would present the gospel to her on the steps between press box levels, she would make a commitment, and Billy Graham was not directly involved. WOW!

Little did I know about other miracles.  Boeing loaned us 95 reconditioned typewrites and a company 4 more for the 100 we needed.  Gais bread, Petschel’s Meats loaded up my VW Minivan from floor to ceiling with bread, meat and cheese.  Mr. & Mrs. Reser (Reser Foods) prepared Wednesday dinner for 400.  Churches sent sandwiches and cookies dropping them off every night at the press box elevator (always just enough).  God outdid the fishes and loaves.  Little did I know or expect that thousands would come to know Jesus for the first time.

Billy Graham’s time on earth is done.  His time with the Lord is continuing and I am wondering if a stadium has been created and is full of the faithful waiting to greet God’s man from earth.  What changed my life: Billy’s love, humility, belief, trust and perseverance in bringing the message of Jesus forever changed my life.


Paul

Paul has worked with hundreds of individual clients from executives to recent college graduates related to career transition and life coaching. Paul holds a Master’s Degree in Psychology. He has written a book, How a Man Handles Conflict at Work. Paul founded (1991) the Career/Life Institute and provides coaching, organizational design and career transition serving clients ranging from large organizations to family owned enterprises. He served as a consultant to management teams, and had senior positions for Bank of America, Right Associates and CRISTA Ministries. His ministry outreach includes Poland, Romania, and 11 trips to Ethiopia. He volunteers for Congregations for the Homeless in Bellevue, WA.

4 Comments

Colin Hunter · February 24, 2018 at 8:58 am

Paul,

What wonderful memories. PTL. You certainly seemed to jump in with both feet early on and haven’t stopped running (or limping) and fighting for the Kingdom since.

Thank you for the words of advice over dogs Thursday. The opportunity came up for me to plant the seed again yesterday. We’ll see if it takes root.

Colin

GordonH · February 24, 2018 at 11:20 am

What a great story, and even more precious memories! I was there too, but only volunteered one night as an usher. I helped to direct people towards the front, at his invitation, ever encouraging people to keep pressing forward as so, so many came to make that first-time commitment to Christ.

I can still hear, Just As I Am, sung by 80,000 voices, still see the thousands, probably tens-of-thousands, of tear-stained faces, that filled the stadium floor, up the aisles, reaching towards that great domed ceiling. I have never witnessed the movement of the Holy Spirit on so many lives in one place in a single night. I was forever marked by that vision as a 19 year-old young man.

We passed-out those commitment cards you mentioned, and gathered them again. If I recall correctly, I think we had some simple paperback Bibles to offer (might just have been the Gospel of John), but I may be confusing that with another large evangelistic event.

I had a brief opportunity to speak with a few new Believers, as they were trying to figure out what comes next in their lives. What a humbling experience, as a realized in magnitudes bigger, HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD.

I returned containers of cards back to those room where they were being processed. Maybe we crossed paths even then.

Rosie Barrett · February 24, 2018 at 11:59 am

Paul always jumps in with all feet, regardless, I have noticed. What a wonderful story. I remember those days in NW. What a wonderful neighbor you are. And what a legacy Billy Graham has left.

Matt Erwin · February 25, 2018 at 11:05 am

Awesome story!

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