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Greg Laurie on “Billy Graham: The Man I Knew”

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The times that Greg visited Graham’s home he recalls was like a trip back in time. He shares one such experience, “The immense beams of the house had been reclaimed from nineteenth-century homes throughout the Piedmont region of the state; the house was smartly decorated with antiques from that era as well. From their porch, you could see for miles in every direction.” They served comfort food for dinner and afterward, Billy wanted to speak with Greg. “Because Billy was such a hero of mine, I was floored when he fixed me with his eagle gaze and said words I’d never even dreamed he’d say: ‘Greg, I’ve been thinking about you.’ That got my attention quickly. Billy Graham was thinking about me? ‘I think you should leave your church and go into full-time evangelism,' he said. 'I think you should do crusades with us here at BGEA.’" Greg was shocked and his mind went back to his humble upbringing but he knew in his spirit what to say, “I can’t tell you how much that means to me. But I know what God’s calling me for right now. It’s to pastor our church and also to do evangelism. It’s not the same for everyone. But for me...right now...I need to do both for each one to be fruitful on its own.” Billy respected that. 

Regrets

During one of their conversations, Greg asked Billy if he had any regrets. He explains, “He nodded and told me of the last time he saw President Kennedy at the 1963 Presidential Prayer Breakfast on February 7. Billy had contracted the flu, and when the breakfast ended, he walked out of the main ballroom of the Mayflower Hotel with Kennedy. He warned the president of his illness and told him that he would not talk in his face. Kennedy said he didn’t mind, suggesting his immune system was strong enough to withstand whatever bug Billy had. At the curb, he asked Billy to ride back to the White House with him. Apparently, President Kennedy had something pressing he wanted to discuss. Billy kindly protested that he was running a fever and was likely contagious. Fearing he’d make the president sick, Billy suggested another time, perhaps. Kennedy, as usual, was gracious and agreed. Another time, perhaps. Billy said he regretted this action and that it haunted him for years. He was left to wonder what was on Kennedy’s mind that day, and if there was a spiritual question, he could have possibly fielded for him.”

Billy's Last Crusade

After Billy held his last crusade Greg said that when Billy finally emerged from his room, he had changed into a pair and looked endearingly unstylish, and he was completely unselfconscious about his look. We sat down and someone brought over some paper napkins, then Billy doled out the cold barbeque sandwiches. It did not dampen the mood in the room as they ate, laughed, and visited. They talked about a lot of things—fun things, ordinary things. He shares, “Not once did Billy bring up the Crusade. Sitting there with him in his old-fashioned cotton PJs and shiny dress shoes, I saw one of the greatest antidotes to the pride that can come with the intense celebrity spotlight that shines on stadium evangelists. The lesson he taught all of us, without uttering a single word, was how to cultivate a keen sense of the ordinary. Billy didn’t sit there and relive the evening’s moments of glory. He knew there were hidden dangers in doing something like that—fishhooks that could snare his pride and tempt him to think it was all about him. Billy knew it was all about God.” 

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