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Looking Back at Billy Graham’s 1984 Vancouver Crusade

By Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Note: This is an article that I wrote as we participated in the 1984 Billy Graham Crusade. We are grateful for the faithfulness of the late Billy Graham, particularly for his leading my mother to Christ and his impact on Queen Elizabeth.

billy-graham

In 1984,  I was privileged to serve as the Publicity Co-ordinator in Abbotsford for the Billy Graham Crusade.  At the time, I was serving as a priest at St. Matthew’s Anglican Church in Abbotsford, one of the faithful congregations that still stands for the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the authority of scripture, even to the point of being ejected from their building.

We were privileged to be involved in celebrating Billy Graham’s 95th Birthday with My Hope,  his largest ever outreach, on TV, internet and in homes.  The following is the article that I wrote on May 2nd 1984 in the Abbotsford, Sumas and Matsqui News:

Checking Doubts about Billy Graham

When people initially think about Billy Graham and the Oct. 14-21 1984 Crusade at BC Place, some are enthusiastic; some are totally opposed; and some have certain reservations.

It seems that the three main reservations people may raise are in the areas of three ‘f’s: finances, follow-up and fundamentalism.

Some people have seen certain ‘TV’ Christians give very manipulative financial pitches.  It often seems as though they always have their hands in your wallets.  Some evangelists suffer from poor financial procedures, and sometimes from downright dishonesty.  Therefore the question is –Can Billy Graham be trusted financially?

billy_graham2The first thing that needs to be mentioned is that Billy Graham comes to this BC Crusade (and in fact to every crusade) at no salary expense whatsoever. His salary is paid totally by the Minneapolis office, and he receives no personal remuneration whatsoever from the local committee.  Billy Graham has not accepted as personal remuneration a love gift, an offering, or an honorarium since 1952 when he went on an annual salary.  This amount has been pegged at the salary received by an average high school principal.  You may ask, ‘Why has Billy Graham been so scrupulous?’ Basically he realizes that unless people trust a person financially, they won’t trust him spiritually.  Far too many evangelists in the past were ‘easy marks’ for being suspected as financial crooks and as incompetent people.

Billy Graham has set a high ethical standard for finances that governments and secular businesses could imitate.  Other financial areas worth mentioning involve budgeting, accounting, and fundraising.  First of all, the local committee sets the budget, as well as receiving, accounting for and disbursing all the funds.  Secondly, an independent audit will be done by a public accountant and then published in newspapers.  Thirdly most of the funds are raised before the crusade meetings so that there will be no undue emphasis on money during the eight crusade nights.

One common reservation frequently raised by people is ‘does it really stick?’  Isn’t this just momentary enthusiasm that will fade away and disappear?’  Many people are convinced that these so-called converts will never make it in the local church.  In response to this concern, R.O. Fern did a major research study among thousands of converts from Billy Graham crusades.  In 35 years of crusade evangelism, Billy Graham has preached the Gospel face-to-face to more than 100 million people in more than 100 countries around the world.  More than one million people have made commitments to Christ at the crusades.

billy_graham3Fern discovered that 85% of the people who became Christians at the Billy Graham crusades were actively involved in the life of the church , ten, fifteen  and even twenty years later — an astonishing success rate when it comes to followup on new Christians.  The case is clear.  With 85% of converts still in church twenty years later, there can be no doubt that this is more than a quickie hyped-up decision.  They are well-thought out, careful life choices.

Because Billy Graham is interested in making disciples for Christ, not just momentary decisions, 45% of the crusade emphasis is put on the followup process.  The key to follow-up in the local church.  Unless a new convert becomes an integral part of a local church, his chances of survival are minimal.

What is follow-up anyways?  Followup means giving continued attention to a new Christian while he or she is being integrated into the church, discovering his place of service, developing his or her full potential for Jesus Christ, and beginning to build Christ’s Church.  As Paul said to Barnabas in Acts 15:36, “Let’s go again and visit our brothers and sisters in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord and see how they do.”

Even Paul’s famous epistles were essentially written as followup material for new Christians.  Not every follow-up approach is right for every person.  Billy Graham has developed nine followup activities that can aid the new Christians. These include personal counselling, Bible study correspondence, local church followup, literature followup, Decision magazine, nurture groups, telephone followup, radio followup, and special followup.

Ultimately, of course, the great followup agent is the Holy Spirit himself.  As Psalm 127 puts it, “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labour in vain.”  That’s why Billy Graham always says the three keys to reaping God’s harvest are (1) Prayer (2) Prayer and (3) Prayer.

billy_graham4A third concern raised by some people is “Isn’t Billy Graham just an extreme right-wing fundamentalist?”  Some people have even tried to link him with Ian Paisley of Northern Ireland and Bob Jones Jr.  The truth is that Bob Jones and his university blacklisted Billy Graham crusades.  During the New York Billy Graham Crusade, Bob Jones, along with other well-known fundamentalists, put a full page ad in the New York Times, calling for a boycott of the Billy Graham Crusade.  Billy Graham’s name is ‘mud’ among true fundamentalists.  Although he certainly believes in the biblical essentials,  he is more accurately described as a solid evangelical than as an extreme fundamentalist.

As a district chairperson for the Billy Graham Crusade, I have spoken to several pastors about the crusade.  It is really only the fundamentalists and extreme liberals who are opposed to this upcoming crusade.   A true fundamentalist believes in strict double and triple separation from other non-Christians, and Christians who are not as good or separated as they are.  The unintended consequence is that they build countless fences that block true friendship evangelism, that block our ability to be in the world but not of it.  Billy Graham and his team believe that ‘the best way to maintain the purity of the church is not through fences but through fire –the fire of the Holy Spirit.’

billy_graham5My challenge to you and your local church is to examine any reservations regarding the three ‘f’s of finances, followup, and fundamentalism.  You are invited to take the bold step of throwing your weight behind this exciting outreach with Billy Graham.

p.s. Click to check out the excellent online ‘My Hope with Billy Graham’ videos:

Defining Moments

Lose to Gain (Youth-oriented)

The Cross (Billy Graham at age 95)

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-award-winning author of the book ‘Battle for the Soul of Canada’

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook. It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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Renewing the Heart

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

-previously published in the Light Magazine

In the last month of Pastor Bob Birch’s almost 100-year journey of renewal, I had the privilege of interviewing him. Like Pastor Bob, many Canadians have sought to enter into personal and corporate renewal.  Many historians would say that England avoided the tragedy of the French revolution precisely because of the spiritual renewal that came through John and Charles Wesley.  Genuine renewal ultimately affects all spheres of life: personal, family, marriage, business, education, and society.

In 1991, I became part of Anglicans for Renewal Canada, serving as their Chair. Then the door opened to become the President of Alpha Canada, which has released deep renewal to hundreds of thousands of Canadians using the Alpha Course. Renewal to me is not just a nice luxury. It is the air that I breathe. Without daily personal renewal, I end up with a hardened heart, a jaded mind and a calloused conscience towards those that are hurting and broken.  Each day I need to pray “Breathe on me Breath of God, fill me with life anew”.

All of us can grow weary in well-doing. All of us need times of refreshing where our batteries are recharged. We live in such a busy non-stop culture that we sometimes neglect the principle of Sabbath, of taking time to rest.  Our bodies may let us get away with this in the short term. But in the long-term, our bodies will go on strike.  Our body, mind, and spirit crave renewal, rebuilding, refocusing.  We need to say no to the misconception that the only choice is between burning out or rusting out.  Through the renewal of the Holy Spirit, we can enter into an ‘active rest’ where we can be more effective and more alive than ever before.

Once while being prayed for at a renewal conference, the person sensed that my heart was melting and hardening several times. This was exactly what was occurring to me on the inside. As the prayer continued, my heart was immersed in liquid love.  Walking outside, I felt as if I was walking in an ocean of God’s love. Sadly the experience did not last, but it left a permanent impact on me, leaving my heart more sensitive, more caring, and more open.

One of the dangers in our Christian walk is that we can become callous and apathetic.  We can lose our first love, our original joy of knowing the Lord.  That is why God promises to renew our youth like an eagle. Even the youth grow weary. Even youth can become jaded, hardened, and tired.  That is why spiritual renewal is so indispensable, whatever our age or stage of life.

All of Greater Vancouver could benefit from experiencing a deeper measure of God’s life-giving renewal. That is why the Greater Vancouver Renewal Mission was held at Harvest City Church, 57th and Victoria Street in Vancouver.  The Renewal speakers were Rev David MacFarlane, Director of Initiatives for the Billy Graham Association of Canada, and Pastors Giulio & Lina Gabeli of Westwood Church, Coquitlam. There was no charge for students and youth workers attending the Renewal Mission.   Imagine what might happen to the Church in Greater Vancouver if we regained our first love?

GVRM 2011 Brochure (click to open)

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-author of the award-winning book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook. It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca