I’m posting earlier today as it’s movie night tonight in the Collins house! (for those who aren’t at parties/sleepovers/retreats)
So my post today comes from the evangelist Billy Graham.
….It’s 1984, I’m 13 and I remember walking home from school through the housing estates. My ankle length, bottle green pencil skirt ensuring my walk home took twice as long. I remember the windows covered in posters campaigning – wait, on closer look this is not a political campaign, but a crusade.
Yes, Billy Graham was coming to Birmingham.
My time for listening to evangelists and finding the love of God was still a few years away but Phil was well involved in the mission at the Aston Villa football ground.
Phil remembers the mission well; a young evangelist assigned the role of youth counsellor, working in the office through the night, organizing response forms into regions, and swimming in the River Severn during break times (in the night…)
Phil was also part of the ‘young evangelists’ of the UK, and when he wasn’t swimming in the river he was in the Aston Villa social club receiving lectures from Leighton Ford and Cliff Barrows.
Billy came and spoke to the young evangelists and Phil remembers meeting him on the car park where they shook hands and chatted a while. ‘I cor believe I’ve met yow Billy’ said the young Phil, Billy looking perplexed at the foreign accent…we still experience the same look today. The group of around 25 young evangelists were taken to the stadium and allowed to ‘have a go’ on the microphone preaching … to an empty stadium.
‘We all wanted to be Billy Graham. He is the evangelist’s hero…a man of integrity and clarity with a non-ostentatious manner’ says Phil. Years later Phil joined the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association as they developed UK evangelists, spending time in Charlotte, South Carolina.
So, when we heard that Billy Graham now 95 is preaching his last sermon to be aired on Thursday evening we were ready to listen.
To listen to the 30 minute video click here. If not, read on for a summary.
‘I want to tell people about the meaning of the cross … the real cross of Christ,’ the frail evangelist proclaims in the video. ‘I know that many will react to this message, but it is the truth and with all my heart, I want to leave you with the truth.’ He then went on to discuss his view on the importance of accepting Jesus Christ and following the Christian saviour.
‘People don’t want to hear that they’re sinners, to many people it’s an offense…the cross is offensive, because it directly confronts the evils that dominates so much of this world…even so it’s a confrontation we must all face’
He went on to explain that the Christian message demands that believers embrace a new lifestyle — one that directly confronts mankind’s sinful nature.
He told viewers that God can renew their spirits and that ‘there is no other way of salvation except through the cross of Christ.’
The message is interspersed with testimonies from musicians Lacey Sturm and Lecrae Moore.
Lacey, blaming God for painful circumstances was asked to go to church during the time she was planning suicide. She slumped down, hiding at the back of church. She hated everyone, especially the pastor at that moment. When the pastor declared there was a suicidal spirit in the room her hair stood up. She tried to escape but was stopped by a member of the church who wanted to pray for her – he told her that Her heavenly father would be a better father, that He knew her pain, that he had seen her tears. As the pray-er put his hand on her shoulder the God of ‘the universe showed up.’ She says ‘God invited me into the embrace of grace’
I love those words. The embrace of grace.
Then, there’s the story of Lecrae, drinking, sleeping around, pointing guns at people for fun, creating fear. He experienced the love of God but still went back to his ‘old’ life. Until he was cut off in his truck, resulting in it rolling and flipping, glass shattering. Lecrae walked out unmarked and realized it was time to stop running.
Both of these stories when merged, become my story.
I crashed, I survived, I hid, was found, received his love, experienced his embrace. Transforming an emotionally tough hurting kid from the Lye, to a forgiven, healed, transformed kid from the Lye!
Nothing I did. Nothing I could earn. It was all through the cross.
So, after reading that summary you’d like to watch it? Great. Click here – for some of you it will be the best 30 minutes you will spend this weekend.
See you tomorrow,
Love, Michelle xoxo