written by Richard Bergstrom, Co-Director, Re-Ignite

March 1, 2018.

As I write this, Billy Graham lies in honor at the U.S. Capital as thousands line up to pay their respects to the evangelist. Tomorrow the world bids farewell to him at a private funeral in North Carolina. It has caused me to reflect on two “close encounters” with him over the course of my lifetime.

My first encounter was when I was 12 years old. My family traveled to Seattle from Montana for the 1962 World’s Fair. We stood in line for the Space Needle and went up to have lunch. As we sat in our booth and looked across the way, we saw Billy Graham and his team having lunch at a nearby booth. I was assigned to go and get his autograph. So I got everyone’s autograph around the table, not knowing who was who. We later attended the Crusade he was holding in what is now Memorial Stadium at the Seattle Center.

My second encounter was when I was invited to sit on the platform of the 1987 Billy Graham Crusade in Denver as a pastoral representative from the Western slope of Colorado. On our way to the crusade, while driving east on I-70, a car approached us going 60 mph the WRONG WAY on the freeway. It was coming straight for us! Leona was driving and managed to swerve to the right, avoiding a head-on collision. We learned later that the driver had sideswiped a bus and then collided with a car behind us, killing the driver of that car. We attended that Crusade with a clear sense of our own mortality, having had a brush with death.

On the website of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Dr. Graham states: “My one purpose in life is to help people find a personal relationship with God, which I believe comes from knowing Christ.” The page goes on to identify the “Steps to Peace” that enable one to find that relationship. If you’ve never confronted that message in your own life, now would be the perfect time to hear his message again.You never know when your time is up, even with a wrong way driver on a freeway!

You may wish to live stream his funeral service beginning Friday, March 2 at 12:00 pm (ET), with coverage beginning at 10:00 am (ET).

© 2018 Re-Ignite
Photo: Christian evangelist Billy Graham, Seattle Word’s Fair, Seattle, July 8, 1962
(Courtesy Puget Sound Regional Archives (CR13985))