My Letter to Billy Graham

This letter will have to be mailed “Special Delivery.”

Dear Mr. Graham,

I never knew you personally, and indeed, I never met you while you were in the world, but I thought it was a good time to write.  If you are where I think you are, you’ll be able to read this.

Congratulations on receiving your eternal reward!  I know that I’m assuming this is true, but it’s reasonable to do so.  After all, it was you who once said;

“I look forward to meeting God, face to face.”

That might seem presumptuous at first glance, but in another interview you added this important qualification;

“Well, I’m going to heaven not on my good works or because I’ve preached to all these people or read the Bible.  I’m going to heaven because of what Christ did on the cross.”

I wonder how many of my fellow Catholics. or other Christians, believe as you did, Billy?  To some, your statement might seem over-confident or simply wrong.  Yet, every time I perform a  “A Visit with St. Paul,” I proclaim what the Great Apostle himself wrote;

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God.  It is not from works, so no one may boast.”   –Ephesians 2:8-9

Rejoicing in the Lord (Phil.4:4)   and in the Gospel
Rejoicing in the Lord (Phil.4:4) and in the Gospel

 

Billy, some people might have a problem with what you evangelicals call a “saving faith.”  And that’s a shame.  It is the Gospel for which Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead, and woe to us if we spurn so great a salvation!

I write to you now, Billy, to thank you for not spurning the Gospel of Jesus.  St. Paul suffered much, and ultimately died for a similar proclamation of the Gospel.  It’s Paul’s consistent message which supplied some of your most powerful preaching.  Thus, I suspect that one of the first to greet you in heaven, was that former persecutor of Christians who met Jesus on the road to Damascus.

I didn’t always appreciate your work, Mr. Graham, while you were with us.  Many years ago, your name came up in conversation and a pastor with whom I was serving at the time, said,

” Billy Graham is doing God’s work.”

I was surprised.. pleasantly.  I expected criticism from a Catholic priest, and instead, heard the opposite.  It helped me to re-examine just who you were and what your ministry was.

Here’s another testimony; my wife, Maeve, was a young adult and growing in faith during her days as a missionary in Bolivia.  At that time, she read your book, “Living with Christ,” and it moved her deeply.  For her, this was a turning point in her walk with Jesus.

Many  Christians have derived help from your writing and your preaching.   Maybe someone reading this ‘letter’ will look up one of your books, or go to YouTube and find inspiration in your words.  All they need do is click on the words in green.

I ask  for your prayers, Billy.  We Catholics believe that those in heaven can pray for us, and indeed, we acknowledge a whole body of men and women recognized as “saints.”  Since you are now in all likelihood among that number, then I have no hesitation in requesting your intercession.  Please pray for us who profess to be Christian, that we may have the courage to proclaim the Gospel…with our mouths.  Yes, our actions count for something. But actions alone will not be an effective witness for Christ, if we never speak up and tell others just what it is we believe.  This is what St. Paul did.

 

"Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!"
“Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!”   –1 Corinthians 9:16

 

Billy, there is no mistaking one fact;

You preached the Gospel. 

Lives were changed.  Jesus entered the hearts of those who responded “yes” to your proclamation of the Gospel.  Thus, our world is a better place for your faithfulness to the call of the Lord.

Thanks, Billy!

-Glenn..

…who by my faith in Christ and His infinite mercy, will see you later. 

Incredible India

“Incredible India” is India’s national tourism slogan.   My brother lives there and my parents and I visited him two years ago.

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We traveled in December and as we left the US, I heard, I Want to Wish You a Merry Christmas, playing on the radio.   When we arrived in India, the same song was being broadcast.  Our friend calls those occasions, “hellos from heaven.”  Others call them, “God-incidences,” or “God breaking in.”   Do you have any that you’d like to share?

I used to run a Junior Youth Group at church and one year, I gave the children a handout of how different countries celebrate their Christian holy days.  The picture of the orange, white and green flag indicated the traditions in Goa, India.  The Portuguese brought Christianity to India in the 16th century and faith is expressed in a sweet and simple way.   Micro-buses have signs on the windshield that read…

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The churches are impressive and ornate…

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…and mention of religious celebrations appeared alongside secular stories in the newspaper.

I saw an openness to Christianity, even though only 2.3% of the population (29 million!) is Christian.  One day, we took a swerving taxi ride to St. Francis Xavier’s tomb.   St. Francis was an early Jesuit priest who evangelized India and was en route to China when he died.  His body was later returned to India.  Many people were there  paying honor to a man who cared enough to leave his native Spain and spread the Gospel in India and the Far East.

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India has its problems but it also has a vivacity and joy.  One night, we took a walk after dinner and heard a loud band playing.  I went exploring and found a six piece band, consisting of drums and brass instruments playing.  They encircled a groom and were serenading him.  They were dressed in bright red and yellow costumes and the groom wore a pink headpiece and was sitting atop a white horse.

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The whole party began walking toward the bride.  Additional people joined and there were about twenty five people surrounding the groom.  I had walked ahead and rejoined my family.  My dad enjoyed the procession so much that he joined the dancing and clapping group.  He stayed with them the next few minutes until they reached the awaiting bride.

Menus in India can be comical.  Although many people speak English, there are numerous native dialects.  This shows up in translation.   One menu read; “chili salamander au gratin” and another, “homely chicken.”

In India, I saw the same joy about faith that I’d seen as a lay missionary in Bolivia and on mission in China.  People get excited about their faith: they dance, they sing, they praise and worship God. 

Their enthusiasm for life and God returned home with me.

The joy of the Lord is our strength.”   – Nehemiah 8:11