Pastors, evangelists, and ministry leaders from 15 states and three countries gathered together at the Billy Graham Library Thursday for the first training event at Billy Kim Hall.
Ranging from baby boomers to Generation Z, more than 90 people attended the Evangelism Intensive, which included four training sessions, worship music, a time of prayer, and closed with communion.
“Today,” announced David Bruce, vice president of the Billy Graham Library and Archive and Research Center, “we are relaunching what was in the heart of Billy Graham—training others for the work of evangelism.”
Bruce, longtime personal assistant to Mr. Graham, opened the event with a touching story.
“When Mr. Graham was in his 90s, he met with a professor of church history for what would be one of his last interviews,” Bruce said.
The professor asked Mr. Graham: “What do you consider your greatest legacy?”
After thinking for a moment, he replied, “If I have a legacy … it would be in training.”
Mr. Graham was passionate—and intentional—about passing the baton to the next generation. As far back as 1966, he determined to train and equip others for evangelism.
Participants listened attentively to a 25-minute video address Mr. Graham gave in 1994 at the North American Conference for Evangelists—and his message was as urgent then as it is now.
“The world is changing,” Billy Graham said. “And many in the church are neglecting the gift of evangelism. We must not. Evangelism is God’s gift to the church.”
One participant heard that last sentence and was deeply moved: “It’s inspiring to be in a place where the work of evangelism is affirmed. So many people don’t understand this at all.”
Mr. Graham’s three secrets to ministry—“prayer, prayer, and prayer”—were emphasized in his message, but so were three other P’s: “Proclaim the message with simplicity, preach with urgency, and in the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Throughout the day, guests were encouraged by two of Franklin Graham’s children—his son, Will Graham, and daughter Cissie Graham Lynch—both serving at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
Don Wilton, Mr. Graham’s pastor and friend for 25 years, challenged the audience: “Are you prepared for what God has called you to do?”
He talked about Mr. Graham’s singular passion to share Jesus Christ. “This was foremost in his mind,” he said. “In all the things we did together, this precious man was so bent on our Jesus.
“Mr. Graham directly told me, ‘Never share Jesus without inviting them to give their heart to Jesus.’
“That,” Wilton concluded, “is the essence of preparation, prayer, preaching.”
The Evangelism Intensive left a lasting impression on many of the participants.
“I won’t forget to keep the message simple and plain,” one pastor said. “Many times, I am tempted to be fancy instead.”
Gathering up his notes, a South Carolina pastor said, with tears in his eyes, “Thank you for giving us this time.”
Learn more about the Billy Graham Archive and Research Center.
Check out the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s Schools of Evangelism Online.