Billy Graham – A Man Who Changed My Life

17 Aug

LIFE ON THE FAMILY FARM UNDER AN OPEN HEAVEN

By: Tom Heck

Billy Graham – A Man Who Changed My Life

                A short while ago, the news came out that evangelist Billy Graham had died. Although he was 99 years old, when I heard of his passing, I had to stop and do a lot of remembering. I, along with a lot of other Americans, and people from around the world owe a lot to this man. It certainly can be said that Billy Graham impacted the world for God.

Billy had a big impact on my life; I know I wouldn’t be alive today if it wasn’t for him. That is saying a lot, but it’s the truth. You see, in the home I was raised in, I was beaten and abused something terrible. I grew up with a very twisted, wicked mind set. As I grew up, I was a very sinful person. I hated the sinful life I was living, but I was powerless to change. I was becoming more and more like the people who abused me so.

Yes, we as a family were real religious; we went to church every week.   But going to a dead, religious church every week doesn’t change a person at all. The preacher would stand up in the pulpit and say to all present, “We are all so blessed, we’re all going to Heaven when we die because we’ve all been infant water baptized. All the people out there in the world are all going to Hell when they die though.” I sat there quietly with my head held down thinking, “They may all be going to Heaven in this church when they die, but I know beyond the shadow of a doubt, that I’m going to Hell when I die.” Today, I so thank the Lord for the Holy Spirit who speaks the truth to sinners, such as I was, who are on the road to Hell.

Because of the terrible abuse in my home, as a teenager, I started looking for a way out. It was so bad, and I was so desperate, that I started to think about suicide every day. And I most certainly would have committed suicide if it wouldn’t have been for one person – Billy Graham.

Billy was always faithful to preach the true Word of God. He held many crusades across the nation and around the world. After the crusades, he would broadcast some of them on national TV late in the evenings. We would normally get done with our evening chores about the time he would come on TV. My mom would always turn the TV on for them.

One of his sermons radically affected my life. His sermon text was from Rev. 20:11-15, “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” He preached on this and it absolutely terrified me. From that day on, and for years to come, every day when I would think of suicide, I would remember that text and sermon. I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that if I ended my life, I would end up in the lake of fire for eternity. I knew what I was going through at home wasn’t as bad as the lake of fire.

Things at home were so bad however, and I was becoming more wicked and life seemed absolutely hopeless that one day shortly after my 18th birthday I nearly committed suicide. If it wasn’t for God’s mercy and good medical doctors, I most certainly would have died. How I so thank God for His great mercy and grace.

Life went on, totally hopeless and without meaning or purpose. And then, two years later, I got a letter in the mail from the Billy Graham ministry advertising a book they were selling called Meeting God At Every Turn written by Catherine Marshall. In the book Catherine told of a personal loving God who was alive and real, who would forgive a person of all of their sins, and guide them through their lives and use them for His glory. I had never heard of a God like this before in my life. And I most certainly had never seen this in my home or church. I had to check this out, it sounded way too good to be true, but for a person on the verge of suicide, what did I have to lose?

So I ordered the book and after several weeks it arrived in the mail. Through that book, I came to see and know the true and living God! After reading that book, I got down on my knees with tears running down my face and confessed my sins to God and repented of them. Then I asked Jesus to come into my heart and be my total Lord and Saviour. I told Him my life was worthless, but I was giving it totally to Him and if He could use it at all for His glory, He could. Back then I couldn’t see or dream how He could possibly use my life at all, but I gave it totally to Him. When I got off my knees that day, for the first time in my life I knew love, I knew forgiveness of all of my terrible sins and I had a reason for living. Life was finally worth living, and I never ever thought about suicide again. I have followed my precious Lord and Saviour all these years now, and the longer I follow Him, the more I love Him, and the sweeter it is. And someday I will not step over into the lake of fire, but I will cross that final shore and step over into Heaven and see Jesus face to face and spend eternity with Him!

Billy Graham, my friend, is now gone, but how I thank God for him, and I know I most certainly will see him too on the other side.