There are no therapeutic massages scheduled on the books.
Anyone looking for an adjustment or lumbar roll would simply have to wait another day.
Culbreth Chiropractic Clinic in Savannah, Ga., is closed on this Tuesday. But that didn’t mean the phone lines weren’t open for business.
In fact, six lines are live, operators standing by, as the final minutes of a Billy Graham classic program flickered on the TV in the corner.
Arch Culbreth, the owner of this practice, looked at his watch and knew it was just about show time.
And, as if on cue, the stomach butterflies arrived.
“Every time I get to the phone center,” volunteer Phyllis admits, “I get nervous.”
In many ways, this is just another second Tuesday at Culbreth. Offices are closed and transformed once a month into a phone bank for the Billy Graham TV Telephone Ministry (TVTM).
Straightening spines takes a back seat; saving souls is on this day’s agenda.
“A quiet revival,” one volunteer describes the work.
It’s 11:28 a.m. and calls from around the country are about to start flooding in. Arch gathers his volunteer staff, who have faithfully served month after month to share the hope of Christ to those responding via telephone to a timeless Billy Graham Crusade message.
Yet this Tuesday was a little different.
On the 8th anniversary of Culbreth Chiropractic becoming a TVTM call center, a milestone was about to be passed. The previous month, after all the contact sheets had been tabulated and verified, computer records showed the number of salvations at this particular phone bank had reached 999.
Arch knows it’s not about numbers, but lives changed. He pauses for a few moments to invite the Holy Spirit to move in what the rest of the week is his lobby and hallway.
There’s nothing magical about the milestone, yet there was a slightly different buzz of anticipation.
“We thank you Lord,” Arch prays, “for the opportunity to bring 1,000 people, by your grace, into your Kingdom.”
And with his amen, the phones begin lighting up.
Volunteers, with highlighted Bibles at the ready, begin answering.
Phyllis, who has served at Culbreth since its opening-year of 2005, takes the first call.
Sitting about five feet from a cabinet filled with Vitamin D and other supplements, Phyllis prays with a middle-aged woman struggling with purpose in life: “Lord, I just pray right now that your angels would surround her with protection,” Phyllis’ voice cracks. “Jesus, we need her. We need her.”
In the hallway, just down from the check-in window, Phyllis’ husband, Tom, prepares his heart for another day of phone evangelism. Tom and Phyllis moved down from Atlanta the summer of 2005 and as soon as they heard about the Billy Graham telephone center opportunity, “as fast as they could,” they tracked down Arch.
In fact, in almost eight years of serving, the only time the couple can remember not manning the phones was the day their garage door wouldn’t open.
“God has called me and my wife into a ministry of evangelism,” Tom says. “There’s nothing more important than leading a soul to Christ.”
In the lobby, Lynne sits a few feet from a pair of X-rays displaying a healthy spine. Her phone lights up. It’s Lou from South Carolina.
Turns out, Lou loves the Lord, but had felt a distancing from God. Lynne shared Jeremiah 29:11-13 and lifted him up with encouragement. “Just know someone named Lynne in Georgia is praying for you,” Lynne tells her before hanging up.
The wait for Salvation No. 1,000 continues. Although everyone is too busy to talk about it.
Behind the counter, Jo staffs the switchboard. It’s technically a computer, but she’s monitoring all the calls coming in and directing traffic. She also helps with verifying addresses—all new believers are sent a Billy Graham discipleship book.
It was a job that Arch’s wife, Stefani, had managed until their newborn son Blake started becoming mobile in the fall of 2005.
Why does Jo volunteer her time? Her answer is simply she wants to give back: “I was raised on Billy Graham.”
Paula slides into her hallway desk as the sixth operator and the Culbreth TVTM call center is now fully staffed. She heard about the call center ministry from a friend who’s a patient at Culbreth, and has been volunteering for almost a year.
Like the rest of the volunteers, Paula isn’t here just to recite a scripture and a prayer, although there is a Christian handbook that each operator can use for reference material.
Each voice on the other end is potentially an eternal life that lies in the balance. Paula, who has been through the BGEA Christian Life and Witness training, treats every call as if she were speaking face-to-face at the end of a Crusade.
“I pray that Your joy will be her strength,” Paula prays with Carolyn from North Carolina dealing with a foot issue. “That truly she will be able to run and not grow weary.”
Arch, for one, is not about to grow weary of this ministry. Sure, he’s a chiropractor by trade, but in his spare time, he preaches both in Savannah and on mission trips in other countries. His practice is now closed two days a week so he can spend more time sharing Christ.
And he’s been dedicated to the TVTM ministry since he first heard about it at the 2004 Billy Graham Greater Los Angeles Crusade.
“We’re here to win people to Christ,” says Arch, who is also helping spread the word about November’s My Hope with Billy Graham outreach.
“Arch is like a missionary chiropractor,” said Ann Harris, BGEA’s field and training representative for TVTM. “He has a unique gift in reaching out to people and his passion is sharing the Gospel.
“He’s more passionate about his ministry than being a chiropractor.”
It’s been almost 20 minutes now since the calls have started coming in. There’s Vickie, 34, who phoned in from Mississippi. Moses, 40, rang in watching from his home in Los Angeles.
People are too busy to talk about it, but salvation No. 1,000 is still out there. Somewhere.
Until Sheila answers the phone.
A patient of Dr. Culbruth’s, Sheila is a missionary to far-reaching places like Ukraine and the Philippines.
But when Mary from Dayton, Ohio, responded to Billy Graham’s message, Sheila’s mission field at the desk next to the water cooler in this Savannah office park.
Mary was sobbing on the other end. “She said it’s time,” recounted Sheila, who used Romans 9:10 to help lead Mary to Christ. “She was very broken.”
Sheila had forgotten the office was still sitting at No. 999, but at 11:57, after hanging up the phone and announcing the salvation, the milestone dawned on her.
The office briefly celebrated with a quick picture, giving all the Glory to God.
“Every time God does something for a soul,” Sheila says between tears, “He does something for me too.”
A total of 125 calls were answered over a 90-minute period, with 14 recorded salvations.
“It’s always a thrill,” Sheila says, wiping away a tear beneath her glasses. “Always.”
About TVTM: The call center ministry of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has answered nearly 1.5 million phone calls since 1980. Currently, 39 call centers are in operation around the U.S., 38 in churches. In 2013, more than 18,000 calls have been answered by TVTM volunteers, with nearly half making decisions for Christ. To get involved in the TVTM ministry, call 1-877-862-4559 for more information.