Untold thousands have come to faith in Jesus Christ through the ministry of Billy Graham. Here, in honor of what would have been Mr. Graham’s 105th birthday on Nov. 7, is the testimony of one woman whose life was changed forever after she heard the Gospel on a Billy Graham telecast.
When I was growing up, my family lived on a farm in a little town called Beecher, south of Chicago. During the summer, everyone would go outside after dinner to do chores, and as the youngest of the four siblings, it was my job to take care of the kitchen. I would usually turn on the television in the living room and listen while I washed dishes and put food away.
One Saturday night when I was about 13 years old, Billy Graham came on the screen. I didn’t know who Billy Graham was, but I knew he wasn’t Catholic because he wasn’t dressed like a priest, and we weren’t allowed to read religious materials or watch religious shows unless they were Catholic. But I wanted to keep listening because he was talking about God and Jesus, and I knew that was a good thing. So I listened to the whole program, but I had to be careful.
I kept watching the door to see if someone was coming in, so I could rush over and change the channel on the television. I started listening to Billy Graham every Saturday night while I did my chores. Toward the end of the program, he would always talk about praying to receive Christ, and one night as I was listening, I felt something in my heart, and I went to my bedroom and got on my knees and prayed for God to forgive my sins and for Jesus to come into my heart.
And then it happened. My mom walked into the kitchen one night while I was listening to Billy Graham. I didn’t see her coming, so I didn’t have time to change the channel. I got so nervous because I thought I was going to get in trouble. But she didn’t say anything. She just stood there for a little while, listening. And then instead of changing the channel or turning the TV off, or yelling at me, she just sat down and watched the rest of the program. When it was over, she got up and went back outside.
After that, my mom would watch Billy Graham every Saturday. And then my dad started watching the program with her. And then my sister, and one of my brothers. My other brother, he was too busy. He had to go hang out with his friends in town.
After I prayed to receive Christ, I started reading our big family Bible, although I knew I wasn’t supposed to. When my mom found out, instead of getting upset she went and got a smaller Bible that she had tucked away and brought it to me to read. And when I turned 18 and was getting ready to graduate high school, she actually bought me my very own Bible with S&H green stamps that she had saved.
After high school, I started going to a different church, one that wasn’t Catholic, and before I knew it, my mom and my sister were coming as well. I kept reading my Bible and learning more about God and Jesus. When I got married, my husband didn’t want me to read the Bible, so I would put it away when he was there and read it when he wasn’t.
After our divorce, I started going to the Salvation Army church. I taught Sunday school there, helped with meals and worked in the food pantry.
When I think back on my life, I can see how God was working to help me come to Him. I remember that even though we weren’t supposed to read the Bible, for a period of time my mom read it to me and one of my brothers when I was little. I can remember sitting on her lap while she read. And then she stopped. I don’t know why. I didn’t ever ask her. But then God led me to the Billy Graham program, and because I remembered her reading, I knew what he was saying was good and I wanted to hear more of what the Bible says about God. I don’t know if my mom ever accepted Christ. But I know she understood that it was important to read the Bible.
I’m 79 years old now and retired. I worked for 29 years and 11 months as an industrial electrician, with 30 men and one woman. The men were nice. They didn’t curse around me, and they never acted inappropriately toward me. So God was always taking care of me.
Because of my health issues, I can’t go to church anymore. But I still watch Christian programs and I still read my Bible every day, and I pray for my son, who lives with me, because he is not a Christian. I want him to know how much Jesus loves him.
I don’t know why it took me so long to realize it, but I can see now that from Genesis to Revelation, the whole Bible is about Jesus. I was just reading last night in Isaiah 53, and I realized that that chapter is all about Jesus dying on the cross. I don’t know how many times I’ve read it, and I never noticed that.
The Bible is the only Book where every time you read it you find something different. There is no other book on Earth that’s like it. It never gets old. I love that. And it all started that summer when I was 13 and listening to Billy Graham on television. ©2023 BGEA
Photo: Alex Garcia/Genesis Photos