February 28, 2018
I am grateful for the many tributes to Billy Graham that have come from both the secular and religious media. The man gave his life to preaching the Gospel: Humans are sinners in need of the Savior Who is the Gift of God that brings us eternal life when we believe Him. His theme – “The Bible Says” – and his ability to relate to anyone, anywhere earned him the title of “America’s Pastor.”
I have been thinking about how much this man mentored me, even though I never met him personally. Carol and I were privileged to work in two Billy Graham Crusades – one in So. California and one in Portland. We completed the training classes to be counselors and were able to take a youth group through the training so they could participate at the meetings.
Only one time did I come close enough to shake his hand when his staff rushed him past where I stood. But I feel like he mentored me in so many ways. He gave me encouragement to stay focused on the Gospel. He modeled accepting all people as valuable and in need of Jesus. He appreciated the testimony of other followers of Jesus and often included them on the platform to share their story. He was a team player.
He was a global evangelist, but he always worked through the local church. His organization followed careful financial procedures. His team members maintained stated moral boundaries, enjoyed long-term marriages and modeled strong family values.
I cannot get past thinking about how much mentoring he did without personal contact. We think of a mentor as one who spends a lot of one-on-one time with another person. We appreciate their investment of time and energy, sometimes finances and certainly patience as they watch us try to develop better skills. But Billy Graham did “non-contact mentoring.” I feel the loss of a friend whose hand I never held, who never called me by name.
I am forever grateful for the man who had so much impact on me but only knew it when he got to heaven.
Pastor Bill Ehmann