‘A Worship Experience’

By Wayne Atcheson   •   December 7, 2007   •   Topics:

Since the dedication of the Library on May 31, more than 100,000 guests from every U.S. state and from countries including New Zealand, Egypt, Nigeria and Argentina have expressed the same joy and blessing that Easterbrooks experienced.

“When you drive in here, this place looks like a sanctuary,” said one guest. Another said, “It is a worship experience. I’ve never seen anything like it.” A World War II veteran said, “Bringing my 88-year old wife here did her more good than all the medicine she is taking.”

Guests of all ages have visited the Library located on the Billy Graham Parkway in Charlotte, N.C., and walked through a 40-foot glass cross at the entrance where the multi-media tour begins.

The 80-minute tour depicting Billy Graham’s 60 years of worldwide evangelism begins with the evangelist preaching a fiery sermon at the 1949 Los Angeles tent revival at age 31. Through 10 exhibits and four galleries of presentations, guests see how God used the North Carolina farm boy to preach the Gospel and inspire others to proclaim the Word to millions.

The Library focuses on the Gospel message and the cross; it is an evangelistic tool to reach the unsaved and unsure and to inspire Christians in their faith and witness.

“The message is on target,” one pastor said. “You can’t miss the message.” Another guest said, “There will be lots of people coming out with tears in their eyes seeking a counselor.” One couple remarked, “We go to church and read our Bibles, but this experience certainly renewed our faith.”

As one guest departed, she turned to a volunteer. “I cannot leave today without telling you that I bought this Bible in your bookstore,” she said, her voice breaking. “I cannot tell you how long it has been since I read a Bible, but after spending the afternoon here, that’s going to change now. I’m going to get back into this Book.”

A 31-year-old mother who had just lost her job came to the Library on opening day. Her husband, stunned by her job loss, suggested she make the visit. “I was hurting and I came here for help,” she said. “I got choked up when I entered the door. I got peace here when a counselor ministered to me and prayed with me.”

After seeing the last gallery–a presentation of the Gospel–a Charlotte couple came out to the counseling room, embraced and cried. The husband had been through four rehab centers but said, “From now on, this Library experience will become my rehab center. It provided the greatest help I’ve ever received.”

The Library has drawn young and old alike. Many share stories about Billy Graham Crusades they have attended or an occasion when they met Billy Graham. Scores have indicated that they found salvation in Christ through Mr. Graham’s preaching. A young woman from North Carolina and a gentleman from Minnesota had first met through an online dating service. When the man flew into Charlotte, the first place they wanted to visit together was the Library.

Nine-year-old Matthew, from Carencro, La., was the first to make a profession of faith at the Library. When a counselor asked him what he liked most about the tour, Matthew replied, “That God is waiting with open arms to receive us.” Then he asked, “How does that work?” The counselor explained, and Matthew became a follower of Jesus Christ. A few days later, Matthew’s family vacation trip brought them back through Charlotte, and they placed flowers at Ruth Graham’s burial site in the Prayer Garden beside the Library. His grandmother told the gardener, “Matthew loves Billy Graham and wants to be a preacher.”

Many others have come to Christ, including an 80-year-old man, who told his family, “They said that counselors were available to pray with us. I would like to pray with a counselor.”

Guests have enjoyed the introduction that Bessie the Cow gives about “Billy Frank” milking cows as a teenager. Ruth’s Attic bookstore, named for Ruth Bell Graham, offers books by Billy Graham and other members of the Graham family, Christian classics, Bibles, reference books and apparel. The Graham Bros. Dairy Bar provides a unique dining experience, with deli sandwiches, chips, cookies, ice cream and Graham Bros. milk.

Visitors can see the Graham Family Homestead that Billy’s dad, William Franklin Graham II, built in 1927 on a 300-acre dairy farm. Billy Frank was 9 when the home was built, and his mother, Morrow Graham, lived in the house until 1981 when she passed away at age 89. The home originally stood just three miles away.

The Prayer Garden, where Ruth Graham was laid to rest on June 17, is often the final stop for Library visitors. The garden is surrounded by flowers and trees, and music from the outside speakers provides a meditative setting for guests who want to reflect on the life of Ruth Graham and what they’ve seen at the Library.

“I’m so overwhelmed that I can hardly contain my emotions,” one woman said as she left the Prayer Garden. “It makes me want to lie down on my face and weep.”

The Billy Graham Library is open to the public Monday–Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free.

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