I was 16 years old. One among thousands sitting in the crowd at McCormick Place at the Greater Chicago Billy Graham Crusade in June 1971. During that 10-day crusade, over 12,000 people went forward after Billy Graham’s message during the singing of “Just As I Am” by the Crusade Choir.
I was not one of them.
I was not one of them despite the warning by Billy Graham at the beginning of his message that it would be an “hour of decision”. He went on to say, “You will never be the same today, even if you refuse Christ you will never be the same”. He was right.
(I encourage you to watch the entirety of his message by clicking on the link; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U89zkUZPd5w&sns=em)
I wasn’t the same. I was questioning what I believed as I attended that night. I grew up as a Christian Scientist and among other things, had a growing confusion over the identity of the Person of Jesus Christ. I had been invited to attend the Crusade by a high school friend, whose church rented a bus to make the trek from Peoria to Chicago. To be honest, I accepted the invitation because I wanted to go to the “big city”. It was an adventure to me. I didn’t know who Billy Graham was at the time.
It just so happened that Billy Graham’s message was, “Who Is Jesus?” He had my attention. Little did I know that God was in the process of drawing me to Himself. This was one of the steps. The Crusade was over. My questioning continued.
A few years later, during my senior year in high school, I had to stay home from school for a week due to an illness. I picked up a family Bible and opened it to the New Testament reading through Matthew, Mark, Luke and John asking God to reveal Himself to me. He did. It was as though lights were turning on as I completed one gospel after another. I finally understood who Jesus was and why He died on the cross. I embraced Him as my Savior.
I’ve never been the same.
I used to joke that even Billy Graham couldn’t save me. Well, of course he couldn’t. But His Savior could and did…and used him in the process. May we be so used.
— Pastor Rick Pierson