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Billy Graham, My Mentor

I wrote this several years ago as part of a 10-piece series called “My Top Mentors” and I repost it now with great joy and sadness.

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As a five year old in Kindergarten, I already felt like an “Evangelist.” During “show and tell” I’d always ask the other kids a question and have them raise their hands. Once I asked “How many of your Grammas have subscribed to the Humpty Dumpty Magazine for you?” It was my favorite, so I wanted everyone to have it.

I can remember watching Billy Graham on our little fuzzy black and white TV when I was 10 years old. He was so clear. So simple. And then he’d just say something like “Who wants Jesus” and everyone would run forward. I wanted to do that.

I would take long walks as a kid and preach to the trees – they were my personified audience. They’d always come forward when I gave the invitation. I was pretty good back then.

When I was 21 and in Yemen with YWAM, I’d take long walks in the central mountains of that wild country and preach to the rocks and sand. Once, I literally wandered into a small village perched precariously on the slopes of a treacherous mountainside. Till today, I believe I may have been the first white man they’d ever seen – for sure the first American. (They tried to get me to marry the local beauty – she was 13).

I loved Billy Graham. Everything about him. And I’ve learned so much from him while watching his life from a distance. I’ve learned:

1. To do business (“ministry”) with integrity.
2. To never allow myself to get in compromising situations with women. He wouldn’t ride alone with a woman or stay in a hotel by himself or even be in an elevator with a woman (if they were alone). I’ve followed these guidelines.
3. To keep the gospel focused on Jesus. He probably does more of a typical “western version” of the four-part gospel then I’m comfortable with – but he sure does preach Christ!

In his autobiography “Just as I am” he says he regrets two things only – that he travelled too much and thus, neglected his family, and that he didn’t spend more time in prayer and in the scriptures. I don’t want those to be my regrets.

Billy – you are my hero! Thank you!