Q: When you look back on 90 years, what thoughts come to the fore?
A: The legacy my mother and dad left me. And I would pray that I’d leave a legacy of faith, trust and joy. For the joy of the Lord has been my strength and song, and I praise Him.
I’ve been moved in recent days by Psalm 104:34-35: “I will sing to the Lord as long as I live. I will give praise to my God while I have my being. My meditation of him will be sweet. I will be glad in the Lord.” And with my song I want to praise Him.
Q: How old were you when you accepted Christ?
A: I was 10. I was sitting on the third row of a little Baptist church in Ceres, Calif. The pastor was preaching on “God so loved the world,” from John 3:16. He said, “When you get to the word whosoever, put your name in that verse. So I read it: “God so loved Cliff, that he gave his only begotten Son, that if Cliff believeth in him, Cliff shall not perish but have everlasting life.”
And that morning, when the pastor gave the invitation, I got up and went forward. I gave my hand to the pastor and my heart to the Savior, and I’ve never regretted it.
Q: When did you realize that God was leading you into full-time ministry?
A: Within two years of my conversion, at a Bible conference at Mt. Hermon in California, I dedicated my life to the Lord for full-time service. And since then, I have been joyfully following in that path that He has led me on.
The 67 years I’ve traveled with Billy Graham have been the greatest years of my life; I thank God for the journey. Both Billy and Bev [Shea] are older than I, and I guess they expect me to keep on going and catch up to them!
Q: What have been some of the biggest influences on your life?
A: The most important influences in my life have been Dawson Trotman of The Navigators, Billy Graham, and the two wonderful women God has put by my side: Billie, to whom I was married for 50 years before she went to Heaven in 1994, and my precious present wife, Ann, for whom I thank God because of her constant loving care for me.
Also, my mother told me, “Memorize the hymnbook and the Psalms of David, and you’ll find them to be the greatest help in preaching and sharing your faith with others.”
Mother was right. I can’t see to read anymore, but “my meditation of Him shall be sweet” (Psalm 104:34). And He constantly speaks to me.
There is not a situation in life where there isn’t a hymn and a Scripture to meet the need. I’m thankful for the Word of God, and I praise Him for the privilege of still being able to memorize.
Q: What are you praying that God will do through My Hope this fall?
A: That people will have a burden laid on their heart for their neighbors and their friends, and that they will be encouraged to invite them to hear Billy, a man with a passion to communicate the hope that he has in Christ. We pray that God will begin to work in hearts.
And He is working: Our country is such a mess right now, and it’s getting worse all the time. It seems as though the whole atmosphere of our nation—of unrest and unsettledness and need and struggle—is pointing to a most wonderful, opportune time to present the reason for our hope. And that’s what Billy wants to do.
Ephesians 3:20 says that God is able to do “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.” And I’m praying that Ephesians 3:20 will be fulfilled—in my life personally, and also in the church.
Q: What other Scriptures are especially dear to you?
A: One of my favorite verses is Philippians 3:10—”That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.”
I tell you, that is my earnest desire at 90. My wife never knew she’d be married to a 90-year-old. And I’ve prayed that I wouldn’t be a crabby old coot, but a happy, joyous man who would let her know each day how much I love her and thank her for her loving care.
Q: How would you sum up your outlook on life at 90?
A: I praise God that He’s been faithful to me all these years. A hymn by Lizzie DeArmond says, “Every cloud will wear a rainbow if your heart keeps right.” It has, it does, and it will for me.
And also Psalm 28:7—”The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.”
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version