Billy Graham's legacy through John Perkins' eyes.
Rev. Billy Graham was the most impactful Christian evangelist of my generation. Mr. Graham, along with Leighton Ford and other members of the Billy Graham Evangelical Association, had a tremendous impact on my life and the lives of so many around the world.
Billy's teachings taught me how to disciple and council people. I learned how to get them connected with the local church. He was a true partner in Christ and was someone who enriched the Church's demonstration of the gospel, particularly through its embodiment of reconciliation.
I moved to California in 1947 when I was seventeen years old and not yet a Christian. With the encouragement and help of certain loved ones, I came to know Christ ten years later. My faith matured and developed as I listened to Billy Graham and other teachers of the faith speak and preach the Gospel. I then came back to Mississippi to begin my life's ministry and to teach the Gospel.
Billy Graham had first come to Mississippi in 1952 to speak to both blacks and whites. When he arrived, there were ropes up dividing the two races. What Billy did with a local Christian businessman was profound—they literally took down the ropes. Billy made a radical statement out of the conviction in his heart. He demonstrated the love of God for all and the inherent dignity of mankind.
Although Billy Graham had already impacted me from a distance, I became directly acquainted with him while in preparation for his second visit to Mississippi, which was in 1975. This was the year many consider to be the end of the official Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi, and it's also the yearDecision Magazine published an article about me.
One would hope in the twenty-three years since Billy's last visit ...