Billy Graham’s Impact: The Words That Spared One Man’s Life

By   •   November 22, 2017

Rey Cardenas was about to kill himself one night when he flipped the channel to a Billy Graham Crusade. Mr. Graham was shouting words Rey will never forget.

Billy Graham turned 99 on Nov. 7. As he begins his 100th year, you have a chance to share your story of how Mr. Graham may have impacted your life. We’ll share some of those stories in the coming months. Here’s one:

After his wife left in June 2008, Reynaldo Cardenas became a single father of three and fell into deep depression.

One night, after his kids left the house, a wave of numbness washed over him.

“I had no feeling toward anyone, anything,” he said.

He took out his rifle, walked to the den and decided to end it all. He cocked the gun and turned on the TV in an attempt to drown out the noise.

“I put it loud so my neighbors wouldn’t hear the bang.”

Rey says if he’d taken his life, he never would have met his two grandchildren. Here he is with his granddaughter, Avery. Months after Rey accepted Christ, his grandson, Vincent Trey, was born on March 16th, or 3/16 as Rey likes to point out, in reference to John 3:16.

A commercial was on, and Rey changed the channel.

“When I hit the channel, Billy Graham was on the TV,” he said. “He was yelling, ‘Don’t do it! God loves you. Don’t you do it!’ … He goes, ‘Your family loves you, your children love you.’ … I wept on my knees asking God for forgiveness.”

Rey was a coach for his youngest son’s football team at the time, and 10 minutes after he fell on his knees, the doorbell rang. It was the team’s offensive coach who was looking at Rey strangely.

“He goes, ‘I don’t know why I’m here.’”

The coach—who also worked with the local sheriff’s office—asked Rey if he had a Bible. When Rey said no, the coach handed him his.

In the last nine years, Rey has shared his story of God’s forgiveness and a new beginning with friends and family.

“[God] used Billy Graham to reach me,” he said.

Rey had gone to church before but said he didn’t make Jesus part of his life until that day on his knees in 2008. Billy Graham’s message had been recorded decades earlier and was heard by thousands on TV that night, yet it spoke straight to Rey in his den somewhere in Fresno, California.

“Billy Graham connected to me. He talked to me,” he said, remembering that night like it was yesterday.

Reflecting on the past nine years, Rey says, “I don’t sweat the little things anymore. I’m happier. But I’m still working on myself.”

Rey has the Billy Graham radio station app on his phone and watches his sermons online.

He reads the Bible daily and his children are involved in church. If he had taken his life, he said, he wouldn’t get to be part of any of that.

“I get to see my grandchildren!” he said.

Do you have a Billy Graham story? Share it with us.

There’s always hope, no matter what you’re going through. Find a fresh start with Christ.