Pastor’s Life Touched Twice by Billy Graham’s Ministry

By   •   October 17, 2023

Over 250 pastors and church leaders gathered for this year's third Summit de Evangelismo in El Paso, Texas. Pastor Josué Mayo Cárdenas heard God speaking to his heart and saw his call renewed at the event.

“The best thing we can do for another person is to tell them about the love of God in Christ.” —Billy Graham

Rev. Josué Mayo Cárdenas served as a pastor and church planter in Mexico for more than 40 years. Sadly, his wife was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, and the news seemed to be a clear sign for him that it was time to retire and leave missionary work. Or so he thought.

But when his wife heard that the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association was holding an event for pastors and leaders in their hometown of El Paso, she encouraged him to attend.

Saturday, Mayo Cárdenas arrived early in the morning for this year’s third Summit de Evangelismo. The one-day intensive training focused on encouraging pastors and ministry leaders in their call to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The summit included recorded and live talks from Franklin Graham, Will Graham, Sebastián Franz, Grant Skeldon, David Ruíz, Andrew Brunson, Anne Graham Lotz, and Sixto Porras. Participants were challenged to live holy lives, stand firm in their faith, and proclaim the Gospel with courage—no matter the cost.

Sebastián Franz, a pastor and speaker from Paraguay, encouraged the audience to serve with the passion of first-century Christians. “The early church grew exponentially because they understood the urgency of preaching the Gospel,” he said.

It didn’t take long for Mayo Cárdenas to notice that God was speaking loud and clear to his heart during the event. After all, it wasn’t the first time that God touched his life through Billy Graham’s ministry.

The first time, however, was through Billy Graham himself.

In 1984, Mayo Cárdenas preached one Sunday morning at the church where he was serving in Acapulco, México, and Billy Graham was in the audience. Billy Graham and his wife were in Mexico with a friend and church leader, who took them to one of his church plants in town for the Sunday service.

“Interestingly, I was going to preach on evangelism that day,” shared Mayo Cárdenas. “And when I saw that Billy Graham was there, I didn’t change my message. I went on and preached about the importance of sharing the Gospel with others.

“After my message, he came over to talk with me, hugged me, and encouraged me to keep proclaiming the importance of sharing the message of the cross.”

Mr. Graham’s words would remain in Mayo Cárdenas’ heart for decades to come.

“That encounter with Billy Graham marked the future of my preaching,” he shared. “Every time I get to preach, even if it’s at a funeral, I keep proclaiming the Gospel and telling everyone about the cross of Christ and His love for them.”

Nearly 40 years later, when Mayo Cárdenas thought his time in the ministry was over, he felt the Lord speaking to his heart at the Summit de Evangelismo.

“I came here to hear the same thing that Billy Graham told me: that we should not stop talking about the cross of Christ. It is remarkable,” he shared as his eyes lit up with joy.

When pastors and church leaders have been in the ministry for many years, it can be easy for certain areas of their ministries to steer from the main goal.

Mayo Cárdenas was one among hundreds of pastors who were encouraged in El Paso to remain faithful to the Biblical Gospel—and do it all for Christ’s glory alone.

“This event has refreshed in me what it means to preach the Gospel,” he said. “It is something that I know and have dedicated my life to, but somehow over the course of life it becomes diluted.

“I feel clearly that the Lord is renewing my call. Maybe now the Lord wants me to serve in another way … maybe not as a church planter. I feel open to let God use me in new ways.”

Would you pray for these hundreds of pastors and church leaders as they go out to share the Good News in their communities?

Looking for a way to share the Gospel in El Paso and other cities in Texas, Arizona, and California? See where the God Loves You Frontera Tour is coming in 2024—and get involved now.