The Day I Met Billy Graham
There is no need to introduce Billy Graham, the best-known evangelist of the 20th century. His services in largest venues of the world's largest cities were sought out by millions--many of you may have attended. His meetings were much in demand, and most, as I, had access only by TV. But in 1976, his team planned a 10-day event in Pontiac, Michigan, at the Silverdome. There was excitement in the local churches, and my daughters decided to join the 1000-voice choir, which was led by Cliff Barrow. Each day they drove to the ferry, rode across the river, and then on to Pontiac. It was a long trip and a long drive. As the days passed, I decided that it was time that Billy Graham should realize what was involved for young people driving so far to participate, and I wanted to point out to him that this was a lot to ask.
So I decided to go along myself on the closing Sunday and just let Billy know my thoughts.
We headed out for Pontiac, taking along dear neighbour, Mae Brown, who was a fan of singer Norma Zimmer, one of the evening's musical performers. We arrived early for the choir practice, and the first thing I did was to make my way down to the floor of the Silverdome, where I found Cliff Barrow, and asked how I could meet Billy Graham. He was lovely. "Just be at the foot of the stage stairs after rehearsal and he will come down."
I did. He did. Our eyes met. Suddenly I was all but speechless. We exchanged pleasantries and I told him that my daughters had been in the choir throughout--but all criticism left me. After a brief word of encouragement from Billy, I smiled, we shook hands, and I stepped away.
I found a seat in the auditorium. The service was wonderful, including the sermon from Billy Graham and the music from Norma Zimmer, George Beverly Shea, Johnny Cash,
and of course the choir, singing the signature "Just As I Am" at the altar call.
We gathered ourselves for the drive back to Wabash--but it was late. Too late to possibly catch the last ferry crossing at Sombra, and no way to make up the time...but as we approached the river, the car lights picked up the gleam of the ferry boat waiting to take us home.