I feel compelled to pay my respect to preacher Billy Graham who went home to Jesus at 99 years old. My 89-year-old black dad has been a preacher for over 50 years. Dad told me how much he enjoyed watching people coming down the isles at Billy Graham crusades to receive Jesus. Dad also enjoyed hearing George Beverly Shea singing, “How Great Thou Art”.
I relate to Franklin Graham saying his dad was the same man at home that the world saw. So is my dad, Rev. Dr. Lloyd E. Marcus.
The thing I remember most about Rev. Graham is that, in essence, he preached the same sermon (Salvation) his entire ministry. Rev. Graham preached God loves you, repent and surrender your life to him. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” John3:16
While I am supposed to be talking about Rev. Graham, these two incidents keep coming to me.
When I was kid, our neighbor, six-foot-something old man Charley was known as the meanest man in our small, black suburban community. Mr. Charley would never set foot into a church. And yet, he connected with my dad, young Rev. Marcus. Our family was Mom, Dad, me and four younger siblings. Dad wanted to attend Baltimore Bible College, but could not afford the tuition, $110.
To pay Dad’s tuition, Mr. Charley brought Dad a jar filled with dimes, more than enough to cover tuition.
Dad recently recounted this next story to me. After over 50 years, Dad still welled up while sharing it with me.
Dad was at a Christian book store to make a payment on a book Aunt Nee had on lay-away. While waiting to be served, Dad was intrigued by a thick book of Bible stories with beautiful colorful illustrations. A white woman approached Dad and began asking him questions about his life.
Dad decided to purchase the book of Bible stories. When the salesclerk told him it cost $5, Dad asked if he could put the book on lay-away. To Dad’s surprise, the white woman who chatted with him offered to pay for the book. Dad said up until then, he was not much of a reader; mostly comic books. Dad told the woman, “If you are kind enough to buy me this book, I promise to read it.”
I remember Dad reading us, his 5 kids, bedtime stories from that book.
I’m not sure what any of this has to do with Billy Graham. Or, perhaps it does. Dad and Rev. Graham; two humble great men of faith — God’s hand on their lives.
Franklin Graham asked, “Daddy, what do you want on your tombstone?” Billy Graham replied, “Preacher.” I am confident my Dad wants to be remembered with that same word. Preacher.
Image: CC0 Creative Commons; Excerpted from: https://pixabay.com/en/billy-graham-christian-evangelist-393749/