Billy Graham Week

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets,

some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers . . .

                                                                       [Ephesians 4:11 NIV]

Last week was Billy Graham week.  Following my NASCAR misadventures I landed safely at the home of my in-laws, Russ and Ruth Moyer, in Greensboro, NC.  I had pre-arranged with R & R to take them for a visit to the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte.  For a number of years I’ve wanted to visit the Library but for some reason had never been able to fit that into the schedule when delivering or picking up our daughter Lauren during her years at nearby Davidson College.  This seemed like the time to do it.

Only 1½ hours south on I-85, we arrived about 11:30 and decided to enjoy lunch in the Graham Bros. Dairy Bar before embarking on the tour.  All told, we spent a solid three hours exploring the fascinating biographical history of a North Carolina farm boy God used in an extraordinary way to take the gospel into all the world.  It’s a Library, not filled with books as you might think, but more like a presidential library with state-of-the-art-exhibits and memorabilia – a thoroughly engaging and inspiring experience.  Of course, I’ll have to admit we lingered a good while in Ruth’s Attic Book Store.  But no, I didn’t make any purchases.  One last pause on the grounds before heading home was at the grave site of Ruth Bell Graham, July 10, 1920 – June 14, 2007.  The head stone is engraved with two Chinese characters.  The first, we’re told, represents “Lamb” and just beneath, the second translates as “Me.” When God looks at “Me” He sees the Lamb of God who shed his blood for “Me.”  Ruth’s humor is also etched into the stone.  “End of construction – Thank you for your patience.”    

The next morning (Wednesday) I bid farewell to the Ma and Pa and set out for a gorgeous drive via Boone, NC and over the Blueridge Parkway.  My destination was the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove located on the outskirts of Ashville.  The Cove is a first rate retreat and training facility with wonderfully gracious staff, delicious meals, comfortable accommodations and interesting people.  What a pleasure to meet Gigi Graham, one of Billy and Ruth’s daughters, Pastor-in-Residence Ed Graham (Billy’s first cousin) and forum emcee John Parrish, a 1979 graduate of Gordon-Conwell Seminary who lived on the Kaner Estate in Manchester-by-the-Sea!  In addition to sharing meals and conversation with fellow pastors, I also enjoyed a breakfast chat with a brother from India who was attending the Mission India Conference.  Still others were sitting in on a seminar with Larry Crabb.  Lots of events are hosted at The Cove.       

One of 30 pastors accepted for the two-day Leadership Forum led by Bob Russell, I’ll confess to feeling a little out of my element.  After all, who was the only participant from north of the Mason-Dixon Line?  And they all had accents to boot!  Not only did I fail to bring a translator, I’d forgotten my passport. Fortunately, nobody cared to check.  The smallest church represented after our FBC numbered some 800.  The other 28 ran in the thousands with multiple services/campuses etc.  Pastoral tenure ranged anywhere from 16 to 40 years so on that count I fell pretty much in the middle of the pack.  Most importantly, what we all held in common is our love for Christ and his Church and concern for the future of our congregations.  

It was a wonderful occasion to appreciate the legacy of Billy Graham the evangelist with a visit to the Library  And it was a profitable opportunity for a pastor consider his own legacy at The Cove

“Under construction – Thank you for your patience.”