We all have our heroes. One of mine died this week.
It was 1978. I, along with my school mate, Philip Martin, jumped on a bus at West Ryde Baptist Church and travelled across the Gladesville Bridge into an unknown part of the city, finally stopping with tens of thousands of others at Randwick Racecourse. We were there to listen to a preacher, an evangelist from America, Billy Graham.
My expectations were low. I was, literally, just along for the ride. I didn’t know what to expect. We listened to this bloke speak, a small figure in the distance. He certainly believed what he was saying, but from memory, it was nothing special. Then he stopped and made an appeal. ‘Come forward. Give you live to Jesus!’ They choir started singing,‘Just as I Am’. Was this going to be a fizzer?
And then it began. People began to stand up and move to the front – everywhere - and the choir kept singing and more people got up, and the choir kept singing and more people got up. Me and Philip stayed right where we were. I’ll never forget that day. The bus was late getting back to West Ryde.
In 1997 I read Billy Graham’s autobiography, ‘Just As I Am’. It was life changing. Within two years I was at Bible College.
To quote Billy Graham, "Someday, you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don't you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God."