I met Billy Graham. I was introduced to him as the Adventist press and public relations officer. We talked together. Yes, he readily remembered his association with Pastor Roy Anderson and the brethren at the New York Center. We told him of the prayers of the Adventists in Victoria for the crusade. He said he was pleased that we could be at the press conference. So simple was the sincerity of this man who has stirred Melbourne as never before, that I readily believed him, and was pleased to be there and to join in the questioning that followed. His whole demeanor, the way he spoke to the assembled reporters, the way he answered their questions, impressed me that here was a man humbled by the presence of God. I thought, Only good can come from this man's work. But we know the devil will find cause to complain.
As a result of this international evangelist's work thousands have found the Saviour, while many who have loved the Lord are seeking a greater understanding of the Bible. Here indeed is a Bible-believing preacher.
I admired the ease with which he turned questions into opportunities to quote Scripture by way of reply. I wondered whether some of us have perhaps neglected this art in more recent times. A reporter asked, "Do you think that nearly everyone in the world will be saved?" "No," was the unhesitating reply. "Why?" "Because Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount spoke of two roads." Then followed an explanation of the broad way to destruction, and the narrow road to life. His answers were always backed up with "The Bible says."
How did he regard himself? Did he see himself as a messiah? Did he think of himself as infallible in his teaching? His replies were impressive. "The thing in which I am interested is in seeing people permanently interested in Christ." he said as he turned to an exposition of the gifts of the Spirit. "The work of the evangelist is to say, 'Come into the kingdom.' I must leave the deeper instruction to those with the gift of the pastor, the teacher." Thus he revealed his attitude to different doctrinal teachings. As I listened I felt the challenge, for I am one of those pastor-teachers. Then I thought, Who should be better prepared to complete this work begun by the Holy Spirit than the man with the Advent message?
In Billy Graham's own inimitable way he speaks of himself as a spiritual obstetrician and the pastors with whom he leaves the converts as spiritual pediatricians. Of course, the big problem is how well the pediatricians manifest the same earnest interest in these new-born babes as the one who brought them to birth and led them into the kingdom of grace.
The success of this campaign is overwhelming. Think of it-135,000 people, a record exceeding the largest football crowd, and the greatest of any previous crusade! Yes, all those people heard Dr. Graham at his final meeting at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Doubtless much of the success for these large attendances has been due to the superb organization and public-relations campaign conducted months before he began the crusade. But, important as organization is, that which contributed most was Billy Graham's ardent, consecrated personality and his direct preaching of the simple gospel. It is evident that the response has revealed a deep spiritual hunger in young and old in all walks of life. Surely this is the time for God's people everywhere to awaken to the tremendous challenge to preach the Word as never before.
Leaving the news conference it was with pleasure and by courtesy of the Signs Publishing Company that we gave to the Reverend Walter Smyth, the visiting Crusade Director, a copy of the book Steps to Christ for the evangelist. He assured us that he would see that Dr. Graham received it. The book was a small token of the good will of the Adventist people of Melbourne. Those of us who know the appealing message of this book will recognize its value to one whose mission in life is to lead the multitude in the steps of the Master.
Yes, I met and talked with Billy Graham, and came away convinced that what the Bible says is indeed the authority men and women are seeking today. As those who truly love the Word of God, workers in the Advent cause are of all people most privileged to meet the soul hunger that was evident in this great crusade.