Billy Graham’s Challenge

by Chuck Hall

Billy Graham had a great impact on my life​. Many of you could probably say the same​. I remember​ watching his crusades on TV when I was a child. In 1970, after returning home from the Vietnam war, I again watched on television the Billy Graham Crusade. The​ very next day, I left ​for Texas ​to ​take several pounds of marijuana I had sent home from Vietnam to my friend​ who had served very closely with me in the war. ​It was a tumultuous time in my life. I told my friend I ​had decided I was going to “try the church.”

On October 3, 1970, back home in Georgia a few weeks ​after visiting my friend,​ I had a life-changing encounter with Jesus​ Christ​. I fell on my knees and cried out, “God, if you are real, be real to me.”  Jesus Christ came into that room with me that night.  The next day, I wrote ​my girlfriend, a ​Bible-college student in Nashville, Tennessee, “​Mary Nell, ​I have met the Lord Jesus Christ​. He has changed my life​ and I will never be the same again!”

As a new Christian, I read several books ​authored​ by Billy Graham​ as well as many of his articles in Decision Magazine. In one of ​these articles Reverend Graham called for a commitment, “an irrevocable commitment…to Jesus Christ to spread the gospel.” In ​1971,​ at age twenty-two​, about a year after I was discharged from the army, I made a commitment to enlist in Christ’s army​.​ Not knowing what it would mean, where it would take me, or what would lie ahead, I recorded on the front page of my Bible a challenge from Billy Graham:

“By God’s grace, whatever the cost, I will enlist in the army of Christ. I will serve Him under His flag, and by God’s grace, I will stand in the gap and make up the hedge. Total commitment, an irrevocable commitment! Can you say, ‘I am committed irrevocably to Jesus Christ to spread the gospel?’ Will you say to God, ‘I’ll go where you want me to go and I’ll be what you want me to be. I want to be your man, your woman​; I’ll stand in the gap and make up the hedge; I will deny myself and take up the cross, and whatever the cost, I’ll follow the Savior.’?” – Billy Graham, Decision Magazine​ 1971

I am headed into my seventieth year of life. Forty-seven​ years past that commitment I made as a twenty-two-year-old, I reread that quote. With tears, I renew my commitment “to Jesus Christ to spread the gospel…deny myself and take up the cross; and whatever the cost, I’ll follow the Savior.”

 

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