Billy Graham turned 99 on Nov. 7. During his 100th year, you have a chance to share your story of how Mr. Graham has had an impact on your life. We’ll share some of those stories in the coming months. Here’s one as told to us by Bob Vale:
He wanted his own Bible.
So with two quarters and a dime taped to a letter he’d written, Bob Vale walked down to his small-town Indiana post office and mailed his entire savings to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA).
His mom, who regularly took Bob and his siblings to church, helped her 9-year-old son pen the note after their family watched a Billy Graham Crusade on TV in the early 1970s. At the end of the program, BGEA offered Bibles to all of the viewers, simply asking that they send in a donation if they could.
A few weeks later, a white paperback Bible arrived. “I was thrilled to pieces and showed my family, my pastor, my Sunday school teachers and anyone else who would look at my new Bible, given to me by Billy Graham,” Bob said.
“I used and read that Bible all through my teenage years. [It] was my foundation to learning the stories of the Old and New Testaments and helped me realize I needed a Savior to forgive my sins.”
When he was 13, Bob asked Christ to be his Savior, and as a high school senior, he sensed God calling him to learn more about what the Bible taught. He packed up and headed to Fort Wayne Bible College.
Bob married his wife, Nancy, in 1984 and began a family a few years later. Their three children are Rebecca, 30; Joshua, 28; and Daniel, 26.
Five years after graduating from Bible College, Bob joined the military and served in the first Gulf War. During that time, he recalls holding tightly to the faith he learned from reading his 60-cent Bible.
“It [was] my companion from childhood to high school, … to college and to a war zone as a sergeant in the U.S. Army,” he said.
Bob followed his calling to the ministry, eventually becoming a youth pastor and earning his Master of Divinity degree. Today, he pastors First United Methodist Church in La Porte, Indiana.
Reflecting on the wisdom he gleaned from reading God’s Word, he wrote, “I have lived my life and raised three children, with the understanding I learned from that 60-cent Bible.”
In a note about how Billy Graham helped influence his spiritual journey, Bob shared this:
“Since moving several times in the military and several times with the ministry, I have not been able to find that small Billy Graham paperback Bible. But if I close my eyes, I can see it vividly and remember all I learned from reading its pages.
“I am sure with all the many Bibles I have received over the years, somehow it may have been donated to a shelter or youth group for reading. Who knows. I hope it is blessing another reader to learn more about the God who loves them.”