Being born the son of Billy Graham didn’t make me a Christian. Neither did being raised in a strong church, nor the prayers of my grandparents, nor memorizing Scripture, nor the good deeds I tried to do.
I knew all about Jesus, but I was reluctant to surrender my life to Him. Then on my 22nd birthday, my father challenged me with the same message that he preached to millions around the world: “Franklin, your mother and I sense there’s a struggle going on in your life,” he said. “You are going to have to make a choice either to accept Christ or reject Him.”
I wrestled with that choice for a few weeks. Then one night in Jerusalem, of all places—where I was helping a friend of my father lead a tour of the Middle East—I went to my room early and read the third chapter of the Gospel of John. I knew I needed to get right with God. I kept coming back to what Jesus told Nicodemus in the seventh verse: “You must be born again.”
I knelt beside my bed, confessed and repented of my sins, asked God to forgive me, and finally trusted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Only then did I become a Christian—when I was born again through the life-giving work of the Holy Spirit.
I was reminded of this during a recent series of interviews with reporters who were comparing Christianity to Islam. These are powerful and influential people who shape the opinions of millions. Yet in terms of understanding what it means to be born again, they can be as confused as Nicodemus was. They assume that all religions are more or less equal. Christians know better.
For many people around the world, religion is part of their heritage. Jews and Muslims both claim to be children of Abraham. In that context, a person can be born a Jew or a Muslim. By contrast, you can’t be born a Christian. Like Jesus said, you must be born again. The only bloodline that counts is the blood Christ shed on Calvary’s cross as a sacrifice for the sins of those who repent.
How did our society forget that truth? More important, what can Christians do about it?
The Apostle Paul expressed similar concern for the empire where he was a citizen. “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:14-15).
For 60 years, that’s what we have been doing at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. We are committed to using every effective means to proclaim the Gospel to a world wallowing in bad news. That’s why we organize evangelistic events like Rock the River that enable us to reach a whole new generation who are searching for truth.We preach Christ, and Him crucified and risen. Only Jesus Himself is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).