Something was different about these folks, but Vivian Dudley couldn’t quite put her finger on it.
Why were they here, in Ferguson, Missouri, with really no agenda at all?
No TV trucks? No protesting?
“I was just so impressed with these people who were doing some great things,” said Dudley, organizer of Sunday’s “We Are One” unity event.
They were wearing blue shirts and black jackets with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team logo in small red and white letters, but in essence they were representing the Lord Jesus Christ to a community in need.
“These people stayed over the holidays. They were here on Christmas Day,” Dudley said of the team that deployed 81 chaplains over a 6-week period at the end of 2014. “Those guys were there. They would go up to people and talk to them and just ask if they could pray for them.
“I was so impressed with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team being in our neighborhoods for no other reason than to serve. That really struck a chord with me.”
So much so, when Dudley started thinking about an event to help unite the Ferguson community after the violent aftermath of the Michael Brown killing, Billy Graham and the Rapid Response Team were on the top of her list.
Over the years, Dudley confessed, Billy Graham’s messages on TV have been personally impactful, despite never hearing the famous evangelist in person.
“I didn’t know him or watch him when it was happening (live), but I fell in love with his ministry because of that,” Dudley said. “I love Billy Graham and everything (the Lord’s) put on my heart.”
This weekend, “We Are One” is the fruition of a passion Dudley hasn’t been able to shake—trying to unite all people of the Ferguson area to worship together as one in an effort to begin the healing process.
And representing the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association is Will Graham, grandson of Billy Graham and executive director of The Cove in Asheville, North Carolina. He’ll be one of many speakers to take the stage to bring a message of hope, including pastor/author Tony Evans, who will also meet with nearly 100 pastors the following morning on “action steps” for the church to unite in Ferguson and surrounding areas.
“We just wanted to make sure we appeal to all people,” Dudley said. “We want to say things that encourage people in repentance.”
We Are One: The event begins at 6 p.m. Sunday (Jan. 25) at Faith Church St. Louis in Earth City, Missouri, with special music beginning at 5:30 p.m.