It seems fitting that hundreds of visitors poured into the Billy Graham Library to celebrate its seventh anniversary this past Saturday.
As visitors were served celebratory cake in the building that houses the “ongoing Crusade,” Franklin Graham was in the middle of a Festival weekend, proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a different part of the globe (Tbilisi, Georgia).
Ebenezer Gujjarlapudi is a native of India who has lived in Charlotte for the past year and a half with his wife, Mary Beulah, and their young children. They, along with several cousins, brought relatives visiting from India to the Library.
Ebenezer and Mary Beulah had been to the Library before, and they couldn’t think of a better day to come back.
“We know of Billy Graham from back in India. He did a lot of evangelism there,” said Mary Beulah. “This is a beautiful Library. The first time we came, we left really inspired. We picked up a Billy Graham devotional book and we do that with our kids every night. So, we are very excited to bring our parents and uncle and aunt who are visiting from the other side of the world.”
This family’s exposure to Billy Graham’s ministry goes beyond Library visits. Mary Beulah’s father, Sunder Rao, who was present with them at the anniversary celebration, attended a Crusade in India many years ago. He was one of approximately a million people who heard the Gospel message presented by Billy Graham during that Crusade..
“We are already born again, but our faith was strengthened by his message that day. It was wonderful for us,” remembered Rao.
Rao, who grew up in a godly home, is a fourth generation Christian. He attributes much of his family’s spiritual legacy to the work of Billy Graham in India around the mid 20th century. Indian pastor Bakht Singh founded his family’s church in India in the 1950s. As Singh was getting his ministry up and running, he had the chance to consult Billy Graham on ministry matters.
While the church in India still undergoes persecution, Rao believes that it strengthens the Church. Billy Graham’s ministry spurs him on to do the work of the Gospel when he returns home this fall: “The Lord has given us opportunities for evangelism, which is the main theme of Billy Graham’s work. He has been instrumental in attracting many to the Lord, and being here today inspires me to do the same.”
For Vice President of the Billy Graham Library Tom Phillips, this was a chance to reflect on what God has done through BGEA over the past seven years through the Library, and over his past 40 years with this ministry.
“Since its opening, this Library has been just like an ongoing Crusade. And like a Crusade, we have many volunteers that make this happen. Also like a Crusade, many people—more than 800,000—have heard the Gospel here,” said Phillips.
“Today is the celebration of an ongoing daily Crusade that will continue, should Jesus tarry.”