Sharing Memories of His Friend, Billy Graham

By Todd Sumlin   •   May 6, 2021

Dr. Don Wilton smiling
Dr. Don Wilton was pastor and friend to Billy Graham for the last 20-plus years of his life. On May 6, Dr. Wilton spent time at the Billy Graham Library signing his new book Saturdays with Billy: My Friendship with Billy Graham.
Wideshot of book signing at Billy Graham Library
For more than two hours, people joined the line for a chance to meet Billy Graham's pastor. Dr. Wilton said when he sat down to write about Mr. Graham, his heart “just flowed. And it all pointed to Jesus.”
Dr. Don Wilton with guest
Before meeting Pastor Wilton, Billy and Ruth Graham watched him preach on TV in 1993. Afterward, the new pastor of First Baptist Church in Spartanburg, South Carolina, got a call from Mr. Graham inviting him to visit the couple at their home in the North Carolina mountains. "We sat for quite some time actually on the front lawn … on a beautiful summer’s day,” Wilton remembers, “drinking tea, laughing, sharing together. Me as a young man, very definitively in awe of the fact that I was in the presence of a man of this stature. And yet they made me feel like I was such an honored guest.” Around 50 members of Dr. Wilton's First Baptist–Spartanburg church made the trip to Charlotte to support their pastor for the book signing.
Dr. Wilton holding copy of "Saturdays with Billy: My Friendship with Billy Graham"
Saturdays with Billy includes 20 memorable stories of their visits and gives insight into the many hours of laughter and teaching they shared. “I pray as you read [this book] and pass it on and are touched in only a way that God can, gaining a glimpse into the heart of this precious man, just remember one thing: You’re it. God’s using you,” Wilton said before the book signing. “It’s amazing how God will use each one of us to lead so many people to Christ.”
Pastor Wilton posing with Library guests
The South African pastor shared how he used to ask Mr. Graham, “Who’s going to be the next great man of God?” Billy Graham's answer was, “Why, you are Don.” And then very quickly said, “And so is everyone who knows and loves Jesus.”
Dr. Don Wilton laughing
Library guest Jeffery Monday said he appreciates Billy Graham’s faith and his message. “It was just so powerful, that it just connected with you without even trying,” Monday said. “I just wanted to get up close and personal with the man who pastored Billy Graham because he must be very special for Billy Graham to choose him as his pastor.”
Dr. Don Wilton walking with guest
Dr. Wilton called it an “indescribable honor” to be at the Billy Graham Library. “If you think for one minute that this is about Billy Graham, you’re wrong. Because he only wanted us to think about Jesus.” >> Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus? Know Him today.
Pastor Don Wilton's hand signing a book
Wearing a Marine Corps mask and carrying a walking stick, local John Craig brought several copies for Pastor Wilton to sign. Craig was a soldier in Vietnam when Billy Graham visited U.S. troops on Christmas Day 1966, and proudly showed people in line a photo of Graham greeting the soldiers.
Dr. Wilton showing children a picture in his book
The pastor spent extra time explaining to children who Billy Graham was and showing them photos of him from the book.
Poster promoting book signing; people in background
First in line, Nancy Tate and her friend Cheryl drove up from Spartanburg, South Carolina, and waited over an hour to meet Pastor Wilton. “For the trust that Billy Graham would have had in him speaks volumes to me the trustworthiness of [Pastor Wilton]," said Tate.