How many 89-year-olds do you know who have an iPod?
Because of his failing eyesight, Cliff Barrows, long-time song leader for Billy Graham Crusades, relies on his iPod to hear the text of the Bible and to listen to music.
As a young man, Cliff committed much of the Bible to memory, but today the Word of God is even more precious to him.
Still Barrows wishes he had “memorized so much more.”
Along with his iPod, Cliff carries his harmonica around in his briefcase. He has been known to stop amid his busy schedule and play one of his favorites, “Jesus Loves Me,” always encouraging others to sing along.
Billy Graham and Cliff Barrows began their partnership in 1946 when Mr. Graham was preparing to lead an evangelistic meeting and found out that the song leader could not attend. Desperate for someone to lead the music, Mr. Graham turned to Barrows, a young singer whose wife could play the piano.
“When we met,” Barrows says, “Billy looked at me with a smile. He grabbed both of my hands and said, ‘No time to be choosy!’”
It was the start of a lifelong ministry together.
Barrows soon produced the Hour of Decision radio program and began broadcasting November 5, 1950 from Atlanta. More than 150 stations carried the program live across the United States. He hosted the 30-minute weekly program, and Mr. Graham read the Bible and presented a short message.
“From the moment I met Cliff Barrows,” Billy Graham says, “I knew he had a rare combination of strengths. But all of that talent is not the secret of Cliff’s effectiveness. It is his humility and his willingness to be a servant. The love of Christ so monopolizes his heart that he never seeks his own advantage at the expense of others. More than once I have gone out to a stadium or arena and found Cliff Barrows putting chairs in place.”
Today, Barrows is still going strong. He mentors other ministers of music, attends leadership and prayer meetings, does telephone and radio interviews, and is invited to speak and sing at churches across the country.
He is also a sought-after featured guest at the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove, in Asheville, N.C., where he heads up the SeniorCelebrations.
Barrows believes the key to sustenance in this busy life is knowledge of the Scriptures.
“The more we read the Bible, the more we want to know and understand it. I long to know more of the Word. To develop that hunger, I major on reading and studying the Bible,” he says.
“There’s an illustration of a hand that shows how to grasp the Word of God—how to make it our greatest possession. Each finger is a concept: hearing the Bible, reading it, studying it, memorizing it and meditating on it. When we use all the fingers, we can grasp the Word of God.”
During the decades leading up to his eyesight loss from macular degeneration, he carried packs of Scriptures in his pocket for years. When he was traveling with the Crusade ministry, he would slip a pack out and memorize the Scripture.
“That (vision loss) became a great trial in my life. I think it’s one of the greatest trials we have to endure in our Christian walk as we age,” he tells us. “If we can’t see to read, then we have to rely on other senses and other help that God brings along our way. And He certainly has done that for me.”
Take a musical journey over the last 60-plus years of the BGEA ministry as you listen to A Heart of Praise, a live, commemorative compilation of music by Cliff Barrows and other musical mainstays of the Billy Graham Crusades. You can purchase this and other similar resources at Ruth’s Attic Online.
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