Editor’s Word: What a providential time for gospel conversations

Billy Graham died on Wednesday, Feb. 21, and was buried on Friday, March 2. During this time, the world is being exposed to the word “gospel” in an unprecedented way.

Tributes to the great evangelist have come from people in all walks of life. News organizations and social media have shown video clips of the man of God delivering his powerful gospel message. His death could actually reach more people with the gospel than his life!

Now is the time to do more than just talk about gospel conversations — it is the prime time to have gospel conversations. The opportunity is wide open, because millions of people are hearing about Graham’s death and seeing footage of messages he delivered more than 50 years ago and throughout his life. With all the attention on America’s pastor, what a moment in time to talk to others about what he spent his life doing: sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Resting and reading his Bible at his Montreat, N.C., home.

People are being touched by his death, and many Christians are sharing nostalgic memories or moving tributes about Billy Graham, the man. But what would he want at this juncture of time? I believe he would want people to take advantage of this opportune time to talk about the message behind the man.

No doubt many people who are touched by his death do not understand what the new birth is all about. They appreciate the man. They are impressed by the fact that he preached to more people than anyone in history, but they may not have a genuine relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. With so many people aware of his death, what better time to talk about what he preached about? It can be as simple as sharing the words of John 3:16. It can start with, “I guess you heard about Billy Graham,” and continue with, “Did you know he preached basically the same message for 60 years?”

Samson was a mighty man of God who succumbed to temptation and fell into disgrace. As a prisoner of the wicked Philistines, he was mocked and blinded. As they gathered to offer sacrifice to their god Dagon and boasted that “our god has given Samson our enemy into our hands,” Samson began to pray.

About 3,000 people, including the Philistine elite, had gathered to watch and mock their former antagonist. According to Judges 17, God gave Samson strength, and he pulled the main pillars of the building down, giving his own life and taking the lives of the Philistines. Judges 17:30 says, “So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he killed in his life.” In a similar way, wouldn’t it be great if God’s people, even in their grief, captured this moment in history and carried forward the mission of our beloved Billy Graham?

Graham reached millions of people for Christ through his evangelistic crusades.

One professor evaluating Graham’s sermons noted, “Regardless of what he preached, he always headed to the cross.” Let us use this open door God has given us, through the death of perhaps the greatest evangelist in history, to reach the multitudes Graham so passionately desired to reach!

Hebrews 9:27 says, “It is appointed to men once to die.” The timing of Billy Graham’s death was no accident but was appointed by God. Someone once said, “With God, time is irrelevant, but timing is everything.” Touch someone with the gospel during these few days of tremendous opportunity. The timing is providential.