While the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team is known for going across the world to offer emotional and spiritual care to those facing man-made or natural disasters, its team has been involved in a different kind of deployment the past few months.
Since the passing of Billy Graham in February, Rapid Response Team (RRT) chaplains have deployed locally to the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Library holds the grave sites of Billy Graham and his wife, Ruth, in the Prayer Garden. There, chaplains minister to people who have come to pay their respects and share how God used the Grahams to further His kingdom.
The following are a few stories of how God is moving in the hearts of visitors at the Library:
More Than Just Tourism
Chad* and his girlfriend travel around the United States visiting grave sites of famous people. They came to the Billy Graham Library just to check off the graves of Billy and Ruth Graham from their list—with no interest in their message or what they were all about.
Little did they know they would leave with something more than just a simple graveside visit.
“That’s all there is. You’re dead and there is the grave, and that is all there is to life,” Chad said as he noticed a man standing alongside the graves.
Chad’s comment opened the door for this man—RRT chaplain Richard Sherman—to share the steps to peace with God.
“It doesn’t have to be that way. Death here doesn’t have to be the end. It can be the door to eternity,” Richard said.
As Richard began telling him about Jesus, Chad stopped him to say he believes in reincarnation. Despite their different beliefs, Richard didn’t give up sharing Christ and the Bible. He continued to bring the conversation back to the Gospel.
“It’s a story of God’s love for us,” Richard explained. “You need to be able to have that [sin] atoned for.”
Chad promised he would carefully consider it.
Knowing God placed him there to share the Good News, Richard is trusting that a seed was planted in Chad’s life.
An Unforgettable Pause
While Billy Graham was holding his 1957 New York City Crusade, Rod* was channel surfing in his California home.
Loving music, he stopped flipping channels when he heard the voice of Gospel singer George Beverly Shea, who was praising God at Billy Graham’s event. Rod was so delighted by this music he decided to leave the show on.
That’s when Billy Graham came on the screen.
The evangelist caught Rod’s attention, but not enough for him to be completely interested in the message. Hoping that Shea would sing again at the close of the program, he kept watching. After nearly an hour of viewing the Crusade, God moved in his heart. He accepted Christ right there in his house.
Two weeks later, his wife also received Christ.
His journey came full-circle recently when he visited the Billy Graham Library with his family.
RRT chaplain Herb Poston was standing nearby as the family of now three generations reverently celebrated the life and ministry of Billy Graham.
“We’re all believers,” Rod told him.
And it all started with a TV program featuring obedient men of God.
Walking with God
RRT chaplain Ruthie Cooper has been ministering to others for years. Each day she serves at the Grahams’ graveside, she comes with admiration of what the Lord has done.
“It’s a calling, but it’s a privilege,” she said.
Ruthie often asks how she can pray for the people she encounters, whether at the grave site or on another deployment.
She came across an elderly woman from Florida who was visiting the Library. The woman was struggling with her next step in life. Unsure of whether she should move to be with family in Michigan or stay by herself in Florida, she was at a crossroad.
Ruthie was able to be an instrument of encouragement to this lady by reminding her of Proverbs 3:5-6.
“I don’t have the answers, but I know Who to turn to,” Ruthie said, sharing the same message Billy Graham preached throughout his lifetime.
As people continue to come to the Library to honor the life of Billy Graham, chaplains will be at the grave site, ready to have conversations or pray as needed.
*Names changed to protect privacy.
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