Five years after Billy Graham’s passing, eternal destinies changed through the preaching of the Gospel are his lasting legacy.
I will never forget Billy Graham’s invitation at the Manila Crusade. He said, “Come just as you are.”
I immediately recognized that this was the answer that I wanted for the fear that I was paralyzed with. I had started to have a growing fear of death when I was about 12 because I was not sure where I would go after I died. I went forward that night and, at 15, surrendered my life to Christ. I received eternal life and was assured of my forgiveness, that based on what I had just read from the Word of God, I was not going to hell. And I didn’t have to be afraid of death anymore. —Lloyd Estrada
My boss at the oil company where I had been working for five years invited us to hear Billy Graham speak on the campus of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Our family went, and for the first time we heard that Heaven is a free gift from God. Each of us accepted God’s salvation through Jesus Christ. He has been at work in our lives ever since. —George Coleman
When Mr. Graham asked those who wanted Jesus in their lives to come forward, I walked to the counseling area. I sobbed all the way. This was the first time that I had ever realized my need for a personal relationship with God. Now I knew what had been missing from my life. —Debbie Clark
It was a hot, sunny day and I had all the maturity and dignity of an 8-year-old, so I didn’t pay attention to anything, until the music stopped. Then Mr. Graham started talking again, and it was clear that he wanted people to go forward.
So I leaned over to my parents and said, “It sounds like he wants us to go forward. Why don’t we?”
My mother, whom I was sitting closest to, said, “We don’t need to because we’re already Christians.” I said, “OK.” But suddenly I started thinking, Well, Mom and Dad don’t need to go forward, and my older sisters might not need to, but am I a Christian? I started to see that becoming a Christian was a personal matter; it wasn’t just a “we” thing for my family. I needed to make my own decision to follow Christ. So I did. I accepted Jesus Christ into my heart right there, sitting in my seat at the Los Angeles Coliseum. —Phil Fischer
Alone on a holiday weekend in 1978, I flipped on the television set. Billy Graham flashed on the screen. He was talking about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. As I listened, I realized what was missing in my life that even my new career could not provide. By the end of that telecast I had accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior and Lord. —Rebecca Sahr
My late father, Charlie Irish, accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior during a Billy Graham Crusade in Portland, Maine, in 1950. My Christian heritage and that of my siblings is a direct result. Thanks be to God for the Graham family’s obedience to preaching the Gospel. —Daniel Irish
In 1963, I attended a Billy Graham Crusade in Los Angeles, California, at the Memorial Coliseum. I was 13 and I was part of a gang at school. I was suspended from school for fighting. That broke my mother’s heart. I was so inspired by Billy Graham’s message that I quit the gang and changed my life. —Danam
In the summer of 1957 our 12-year-old son, Steven, suggested that we go to Madison Square Garden in New York City, where the Crusade was being held. At the Crusade meeting, when Mr. Graham spoke, I saw my standing before God as I had never seen it before. Guilt weighed heavily on me, and I knew that I needed God’s forgiveness. Steven and I went forward at the invitation, and both of us asked the Lord Jesus into our lives. —Matthew Rocco
In 1985, a religious education teacher invited me to attend a Billy Graham Livelink at a church.
Life was pretty desperate for me in those days. In addition to the loss of my father, Nancy and I had gone through the difficult birth of our second child. And our marriage itself was challenging.
I suddenly knew that I needed to be at the front of that church, praying to accept Christ. I sprang out of my seat and started down the aisle.
I felt a sense of lightness, as if I had found an answer to what I was looking for. I sensed that Jesus was with me as I walked down the aisle. I felt like a child walking home from school with my dad, only the Man walking with me was Jesus, and He was carrying all the things that had weighed me down. —Andrew Panayotou
I don’t recall what Billy Graham preached about, but when he gave the invitation for people to come forward and commit their lives to Christ, I wanted to go. I didn’t want to go alone, though. Then my husband stood up, took my hand and asked, “Nat, are you coming with me?” I was overjoyed! “Yes,” I said, and we went forward together. —Natalie James
When Mr. Graham gave the invitation to accept Jesus Christ, I stood at my seat in the handicapped section, sobbing tears of repentance. I asked Jesus to take control of my life. Thus, at the age of 52—disabled and weary of trying to find my own answers—I began life as “a new creature” in Christ. —Luella LeVee
It was 1961, and I think that the Crusade being broadcast was coming from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I listened with intense interest. Mr. Graham’s words struck me with an urgency unlike any I had ever known. When Mr. Graham gave the invitation to trust Christ as Savior and Lord, I got down on my knees in prayer. Tears of remorse and joy mingled as my heart was opened and Christ came in to take up residence. —Larry Sizemore
Photo: Greg Schneider/©2004 BGEA