Stories about how God used My Hope America With Billy Graham keep coming in. Here are two that are uniquely linked.
Two deaths—one in South Carolina and the other in Ohio—proved to be the catalyst for a spiritual harvest in both states through My Hope America With Billy Graham.
Kyle Turner of Greenville, S.C., and Suzie Foster of Jeromesville, Ohio, voice their thanks to God for how He graciously worked through the deaths of a father-in-law and sister-in-law, respectively, to bring friends and family into His Kingdom.
Golfing buddies hear Gospel
Kyle Turner was getting ready for an early Saturday morning My Hope golf tournament in November when his wife, Darlene, came running to him with panic in her eyes. Her father, Bramlett Moore, who was staying with them for a few days, had slept in the back bedroom the prior evening and had gone to bed not feeling well. Darlene cried out that something was terribly wrong.
The two tried to rouse Mr. Moore, but he didn’t respond. “He was gone,” Kyle remembered. “He passed away in his sleep.”
Kyle, the pastor of Oak Crest Baptist Church in Greenville, quickly telephoned some of his leaders and asked them to go to the nearby Summersett Golf Club and get the tournament going with the 80 to 90 golfers who would be showing up. He said he hoped to be there when they finished around 12:30 p.m. to show them Billy Graham’s Gospel message The Cross and talk to them about how they could have a personal relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ.
“I knew I would have to leave that up to Darlene and how she felt about me leaving her several hours later,” Kyle said.
When that time came, Darlene, in the midst of pressing arrangements, urged her husband to go and speak to the men about eternal life in Christ and Christ alone.
Kyle knows how to speak to golfers. His father, Paul, was a club pro. His sister, Sherri, toured with the Ladies Professional Golf Association for about 25 years. And he played at Anderson College and was moving toward a golf career when God called him into the pastorate in 1994.
“Most of these guys know a lot about golf but little about the Lord,” Kyle said.
When the 80-plus golfers jammed into the club’s grill built for about 50, Kyle greeted them. He told them about the death of his father-in-law and that he knew where Mr. Moore was now because Kyle had the privilege of leading him to Christ six years before.
Then they watched The Cross. “Their eyes were on the video screen, and I could tell they were just taking in what Mr. Graham was saying.”
Afterward, Kyle asked those who wanted to give their lives to Jesus Christ to come forward. “I knew it would be very, very difficult to make a public profession of faith in front of their peers, but I wanted them to really mean it,” he explained.
Seven men did. “Included in that group was a young man whose family has had a checkered past,” Kyle said. “Another was a man who was identified as one of the vilest men out on the course. When it came time to make a commitment, he looked at the guy beside him and said, ‘Get out of my way, I’ve got to go forward!’”
When Kyle told Darlene later that day what God had done in the lives of those golfers, she praised the Lord. “She was excited for all that God did,” he said.
And Kyle was thankful for the opportunity God gave him to convey the Good News. “I always thought that I was being brought up to be a professional golfer, but I think God had a greater purpose in it,” Kyle explained. “While my dream didn’t come true, I think God’s vision for golf in my life has come true.”
A lasting love for family
In 1989, Suzie Foster’s sister-in-law was dying of cancer. Janet, then in her 50s, was married to Suzie’s older brother Denton. The two women had grown up in Jeromesville, halfway between Cleveland and Columbus, and had known each other for 37 years.
As a result, Janet felt she could trust Suzie with a sacred request.
Janet was deeply concerned about the spiritual welfare of her four sons and two daughters. Knowing she would soon be going to Heaven to be with her Savior, Janet gathered her children to her bedside. She reminded them of what she had told them in the past—that God loved them and died for them on the cross in the Person of His Son Jesus Christ, and they could have their sins forgiven if they committed their lives to Jesus. Janet wanted each of her children to accept Christ so that one day they could be reunited for eternity.
Days later, Janet talked with Suzie and asked her to look after her children and do all she could to help them follow Christ.
“She was very sick then,” Suzie recalled. “We didn’t talk long, and she urged me not to give up on the kids. I said I wouldn’t and that I’d do my best to tell them about Jesus and introduce them to Him.”
Soon after, while sitting on the edge of her bed, gazing upward, Janet passed away, with Suzie at her bedside. Janet’s death reminded Suzie of John 17:1, which says, “Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: ‘Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You’” (NKJV).
Since most of Janet’s children still live close, Suzie has continued to see them in passing or to talk with them by phone. And she always runs into them at the family’s yearly cookout or some other type of planned outing.
In the intervening years since Janet’s death, three of the six children have made commitments to Christ. Jackie accepted the Lord a few years back. Janet’s other daughter, Christine, was deaf, and two church interpreters influenced her for Christ. Suzie had the privilege of leading Christine to the Lord. She died at the age of 50, also of cancer.
Martin, one of Janet’s four sons, died some years ago. “I believe Martin was also a believer, from the conversations I had with him and times we had prayer together,” Suzie said.
When Suzie heard about My Hope America With Billy Graham, she immediately knew she wanted to invite Janet’s remaining children over to her home to hear Mr. Graham’s message The Cross. But not just daughter Jackie and brothers Mike, Matt and Mitch, but also their children and their grandchildren—three generations!
In preparation, Suzie stepped up her prayer life. She asked God for ways to build further rapport with her extended family and that He especially would be softening their hearts and preparing them to hear God’s life-changing message.
Suzie also designed and disseminated a special invitation flyer, with Janet’s photo and John 17:1 placed underneath.
“I didn’t know if they’d show up Nov. 7 or not, but 23 family members came, and I praise God because He brought them all,” Suzie said.
In fact, it was standing room only in Suzie’s living room. And everyone watched the 28-minute program attentively.
Following Mr. Graham’s invitation for viewers to pray with him to receive Christ as Savior, Suzie stood and shared how she accepted Jesus when she was 9 years old. And she told everyone how it was Janet’s dying wish in 1989 to see each one of them following the Lord.
Suzie then asked if anyone would like to accept Christ as Savior. Her relatives weighed their decisions. Four hands went up. She also asked if anyone would like to rededicate their life to Him as Lord. Five more hands were raised. Suzie led them in prayer. At first they hesitated in praying out loud, but slowly one voice softly spoke out. Others followed.
Among those responding included Mike, Matt and Mitch, who yielded their lives to Christ.
“It was like witnessing a miracle,” Suzie exclaimed. “It was all God. This means He had brought all of Janet’s children to Himself. He alone deserves the credit.”
Another family member registered a decision, one that Suzie was not expecting … her husband of 39 years, David. “He rededicated his life to Christ and has since been more joyful,” she said. “That’s been a blessing to watch.”
Now Suzie is following up each family member who made a decision that night. “I want to help each one get into God’s Word so they can have fellowship with Him and follow Him,” she said. “I’m praying now just as diligently for them to get into the Scriptures, and for all I know, they are. Praise God for everything.”
The Scripture quotation marked NKJV is taken by permission from The Holy Bible, New King James version.