Michael Baggett shook hands with Billy Graham at a San Antonio, Texas, Crusade in 1993, but has never seen the evangelist’s face. Mike, a Billy Graham Library volunteer, has been legally blind all his life.
“Please walk this way,” Mike tells Library visitors on a sunny Saturday. Inside, he offers directions as they enter the Journey of Faith tour. “Silence your cellphone. No flash photography.”
Mike, 51, occasionally sees shadows, shapes and light. He can’t see the visitors, but hears people approaching and greets them.
Mike works at a company that employs the blind. His co-worker, Stacy Byram, is also legally blind and told Mike about volunteering at the Library. Mike had help filling out the volunteer application and started volunteering two years ago. Stacy volunteers, too, but she isn’t Mike’s only friend there.
Mike’s voicemail message tells friends they have reached “Michael and Mason.” Mason, a 9-year-old black lab, is Mike’s guide dog. The two have been inseparable for seven years, but sometimes Mason sleeps on the job. He sprawls out on the floor while Mike stands at his post in the Library, and some visitors never notice the sleeping dog. Others ask to pet him.
More than two decades ago, when Mike was in his late-20s, volunteering for an evangelistic ministry was far from his mind. As he puts it, he was “going down the dark road” and drank too much. He was living in San Antonio where he met a family who invited him to church.
Shortly after that, in 1993, Mike attended the San Antonio Crusade with a friend. They went to the front when an invitation was given at the end. Mike says God used Billy Graham to help turn his life around.
Mike’s transition wasn’t immediate, but he has seen his faith grow. He first experienced the Library’s Journey of Faith tour with a Sunday school class in 2008. The Sunday school teacher explained the different rooms to him, and he enjoyed hearing the videos. The tour shows how God used Billy Graham to reach the world with the Gospel.
Today, Mike takes public transportation to volunteer at the Library twice a month and give others a chance to experience the Journey of Faith.
“I like working and doing things for the Lord,” he said.
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