Graham Crusade nearing
By Bob Baysinger
September 28, 2004
KANSAS CITY – Billy Graham, the renowned Southern Baptist evangelist who has preached the Gospel of Christ in person to more than 80 million people, will launch the Heart of America Billy Graham Crusade Oct. 7 at 7 p.m.
The Kansas City crusade will be the final opportunity for most Missouri Baptists to hear Graham in person. The 85-year-old preacher has announced that the Heart of America Crusade, the crusade scheduled for November in California and the crusade next year in New York will be his last.
The Kansas City crusade was originally scheduled for June 17-20. It was postponed until October after Graham was injured in a fall at his home.
The delay, according to Sherman Barnett, crusade director, has had both a negative and a positive impact.
“From the negative side,” Barnett said, “we have had to reschedule everything and reprint all promotional materials. On the positive side, the delay has given us a little more time to encourage more churches to become involved in the crusade.”
Barnett estimates that 1,200 churches in Missouri and Kansas are supporting the crusade.
“We have a good number, but we always want more,” Barnett said. “This whole thing – the effectiveness of the crusade – really depends on the local church. The church makes it a success with church members bringing their lost friends and acquaintances to the crusade.
“If they don’t do that, all we will have is a big Christian rally.”
Crusade services will continue at Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Kansas City Chiefs, at 7 p.m. on Oct. 8, 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 9 and 4 p.m. on Oct. 10.
A Saturday morning session on the Arrowhead Stadium parking lot will be aimed at children and will feature special guests Nana Puddin’, Wheels of Freestyle and Sandtown.
The Heart of America Crusade will not be the first time Graham has bounced back from an injury to preach. In Oct., 2001, while preaching a crusade on the Fresno campus of the University of California, he slipped and fell backwards while getting up from kneeling at the heater to adjust the temperature in his room.
Graham’s list of accomplishments is almost endless.
He was the first Christian, eastern or western, to preach in public behind the Iron Curtain after World War II, culminating in giant gatherings in Budapest (1989) and Moscow (1992) and complemented by unprecedented invitations to Pyongyang, North Korea (1992) and Beijing (1993).
For virtually every year since the 1950s, Graham has been a fixture on lists of the 10 most admired people in America or the world. He has received both the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1983) and the Congressional Gold Medal (1996), the highest honors these two branches of government can bestow upon a civilian.
A Ladies Home Journal survey once ranked the evangelist as second only to God in the category of “achievements in religion.”
Graham was born in 1918 in Charlotte, N.C. – the oldest of two sisters and two brothers. He first attended Bob Jones College, but found both the climate and “Dr. Bob’s” strict rule intolerable. He then followed a friend to Florida Bible Institute, where he began preaching and changed his denominational affiliation from Presbyterian to Southern Baptist.
The Heart of America Crusade will feature special guests each evening and testimonies the last three services.
Lynda Randle and the musical group Salvador will join Graham on the platform for the Thursday opening service. Friday guests will be the Charlie Daniels Band and MercyMe. A testimony will be given by Gary Spani, a former Kansas Chiefs football player.
The Saturday evening crusade service will begin at 6:30 p.m. with special music by Third Day, TAIT and Sandtown and a testimony by NASCAR driver Michael Waltrip.
The crusade will close out with a 4 p.m. Sunday service featuring Michael W. Smith and the Gaither Vocal Band. Peter Herschend, co-owner of Silver Dollar City, will give a testimony.
Barnett said a 4,000-voice choir also will sing each evening, directed by Graham’s long-time music director, Cliff Barrows.