“Some things are caught rather than taught.” This saying proved true for me at Billy Graham’s press conference for the Greater New York Billy Graham Crusade. In a room packed with media from around the world, Mr. Graham modeled something that no book could ever teach me. He demonstrated in his opening statement that he is a man who is unashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ:
“I’m going to talk about the Gospel of Christ, and I am going to refuse to answer questions on subjects that maybe 20 years ago I would have answered,” Billy Graham told reporters. “I have one message: Jesus Christ came; He died on a cross; He rose again. He asks us to repent of our sins and receive Him by faith as Lord and Savior. And if we do, we have forgiveness of all our sins.”
This boldness with the Gospel of Jesus Christ convicted me. Prior to the press conference, my three days of street evangelism in New York with a group of other young evangelists bore no observable fruit. But God used the press conference to expose the root of my fruitlessness. I was not a man of “one message.” My heart was ashamed of the Gospel. When engaging people in spiritual conversations, rarely did I directly present the Gospel like Mr. Graham did to the world press corps.
The following day, I woke up and prayed to be a man of “one message,” unashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ–and God honored my prayers.
On the bus I met 16-year-old Manuel. I felt led to engage him directly with my testimony and the Gospel. After listening, he read the “Steps to Peace With God” booklet. I asked, “Have you heard this message before?” He said, “No.” I asked, “Do you want to pray to receive Christ?” He responded, “I just prayed the prayer in the booklet.” I gave him a “Living in Christ” follow-up booklet. My heart was so filled with joy. I stopped our team right then to pray a prayer of thanksgiving for Manuel’s salvation.
Later that same day, hungry and tired, we stopped for dinner at a pizza joint in Times Square. Our waitress, Lilia, noticed our Crusade polo shirts and asked, “What is this Billy Graham thing all about?” Prior to the press conference I would have given her an invitation to the Crusade and talked about the musicians who were performing–but not this night. I was determined to be a man of one message. I opened my Bible to John 3:16 and read it out loud to Lilia, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (NIV). Hearing this, Lilia said, “I want to pray.” I was shocked. To make sure she understood, I took her through the “Steps to Peace With God” booklet. Then I led her in a prayer to receive Jesus Christ.
Through Mr. Graham’s witness and the opportunities God gave me, I experienced the truth of His Word, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile” (Romans 1:16, NIV).