Larry Milly has lived in the Charlotte area since 1975. He thought many times about visiting the Billy Graham Library, but never got around to it until this week.
“I’ve driven by it all the time on the way to the airport. … You can’t help but be inspired by Billy Graham,” he said.
Wednesday, on a warm, overcast summer day, he finally stopped by with his wife, Kathy, daughter and two grandkids, ages 6 and 9. The youngest two of the group held kids’ pages to fill out as they took the Library tour.
‘A cool person’
Teens from the McCrorey Family YMCA recently toured the Billy Graham Library.
Damien Evans, 13, didn’t know about Billy Graham before the group trip. Toward the end of the tour, he said he was inspired by Mr. Graham’s travels around the world “to tell people about Jesus.”
“He’s a cool person,” Evans said.
Alexis Bell, 14, joined the same group for her fourth trip to the Library. She visited before with her family and said she would come again. Her favorite room on the tour is one dedicated to Mr. Graham’s wife, Ruth Bell Graham, who grew up in China. Bell said she likes the creative Chinese decorations.
There since day one
Jimmy and Elizabeth Puckett have volunteered at the Library since it opened six years ago.
Jimmy, a Navy veteran, sang in the Crusade choir in 1996 at the former Ericsson Stadium in Charlotte where hundreds came forward at the altar call. Elizabeth served as a counselor.
The pair, now married for 47 years, spend many days at the Library, Mr. Graham’s ongoing Crusade for thousands who pass through the doors each year. Jimmy is a greeter, and Elizabeth volunteers in the prayer room.
Elizabeth smiles constantly. She says she grew up in church, didn’t drink, smoke or curse, but realized in her early 20s that inside, she was “self-righteous and judgmental.” Today, she sees many people come to the prayer room thinking God couldn’t possibly love them, but she shares that He can and does, even with their shortcomings. She has prayed with ages 6 to 80-something, and on Wednesday shared a simple story of God’s love with a group of children.
One of the most memorable prayers, she said, was with a young couple who then got engaged at the Library and invited Elizabeth to the wedding. She happily celebrated their special day.
Meeting people around the world
William Sims has met people from dozens of countries by standing in the same spot in the past six years. He is a staple greeter at the Billy Graham Library – one of the very first Library volunteers.
“I’ve seen a lot of people come through that front door,” he said, standing just inside.
He prays for people as they enter the Library under a huge glass cross and hopes they leave knowing the significance of that cross in their own lives. He sometimes asks visitors as they leave if their lives have been changed. Many say yes.
Sims, from Lancaster, S.C., rededicated his life to Christ at a 1954 Crusade in Charlotte where he was a counselor. Fifty-two years later, he served as a counselor again, also in Charlotte. He works full time for Carolinas Medical Center as a dietary supervisor, but eagerly volunteers at the Library – usually on the weekends.