“I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7): Reflections on the life of Billy Graham.

As we heard this week that Billy Graham had passed away, I thought of the life and death of my father-in-law, who was also a minister of the Word all his life. At his funeral, the president of our denomination mentioned how few pastors nowadays remain in the ministry. Both Billy Graham, as well as my  father can say with the Apostle Paul, “I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

Billy Graham understood that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes (Rom 1:16). He shared with people that they can know that their sins are forgiven and that they can start a new life—not in their own strength, but because those who believe in Christ are, in the words of 2 Corinthians 5:17, a new creation.

Billy Graham introduced millions of people to the living Lord Jesus. The power of God was tangibly present as he invited people to give their lives to the Lord. The gospel message resonated with powerful world leaders, as well as with millions of ordinary people. His ministry kindled a global awakening in the years that followed the second world war.

Billy Graham is no longer with us. Who will fulfill his leadership role in the 21st-century? I believe the Lord is raising up multiple leaders. Let us not overlook the pastors of congregations, small and large all over the country! Let us treasure our pastors because they are at the forefront of the battle for the kingdom of God! Let us pray for them and provide for them so that they can stay in the ministry, proclaiming the same gospel that Billy Graham understood so clearly.

Discussion: Do you agree that God is raising up multiple leaders in the 21st-century? In which ways can we care for our pastors, enabling them to stay in the ministry!

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“… joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5, ESV)

Swedish lake in autumn colors. Early morning lake with a little fog or mist still left.

Today is my elder daughter’s bridal shower. When I woke up this morning I thought of the day about six weeks after her birth when we called upon the Lord to heal her. She was born while I was studying in Münster, Germany. She was born in the University Hospital, the same hospital where Raisa Gorbachev received treatment after diagnosed with cancer. We were still living in South Africa and we asked that our baby be vaccinated against tuberculosis, not knowing that the organism in the vaccine was not sufficiently weakened.  Our little baby developed a growing tuberculosis abscess.

We called Pastor Lehndorf, the pastor of a small Pentecostal church where we worshiped. He and his wife came and prayed for our little one. It was a Saturday afternoon and they stayed with our daughter so that we could get a little rest. On Monday morning the doctor was amazed at the healing – he mentioned that he had planned to operate, but it was no longer necessary. On Tuesday morning our firstborn went home with us!

The words of Psalm 30 gained new meaning for us:

O Lord my God, I cried to you for help,
and you have healed me …

Psalm 30 is also true for you, dear Reader. Call upon the Lord and He will turn your “mourning into dancing” (verse 11). The picture above allows us to experience the wonder of the early morning. It may be fall (as we can see from the colored leaves), but every morning is fresh and new and with God full of hope! Yes, “weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”