In light of the recent passing of Billy Graham it is difficult not to share personal thoughts regarding his life and ministry. I had the privilege of hearing him "live" on two occasions: The first was when I was in college and he was the featured spearer at Expo 72 in Dallas Texas. I had only been a Christian for a couple of years and hearing him speak to 40,000+ college students in the Cotton Bowl was an incredible experience. The second time I heard him was in Oklahoma City, some 25 years after the Expo event, at what many thought may be his last public rally. It wasn't, but the experience of hearing him twice, with a 25 year span between events, brought home for me the challenge of perseverance and faithfulness. Billy Graham's message and life rang true across the years.
Though I didn't know it when I first heard him, I now realize that Billy Graham was a solution focused preacher. He proclaimed that we do not have to be bound by our old life of sin but that we can find a whole new life and future through faith in Jesus Christ. In a day when segregation was a way of life, Billy insisted on a new future at his events; one where black and white could sit together and hear the Good News of Jesus Christ. Billy, no doubt, wanted us to leave the old ways behind and focus our hearts on the new kingdom Christ would one day bring. Thank God for his life, his example, and his legacy. I can say, along with countless others, that his life and message have been a wonderful part of my journey.
Dr. Allen Schneider is a United Methodist pastor and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist presently serving the Sapulpa and greater Tulsa communities.