Youth for Christ Honors Cliff Barrows

By   •   July 16, 2008

God has placed his thumbprint on Cliff Barrows much as an artist signs the border of painting – something his former Youth for Christ colleagues celebrated in a very symbolic way Tuesday evening.

Following a SeniorCelebration at The Cove July 15, Willie Foote, who served as a Youth for Christ director in Atlanta for 27 years, presented Barrows with a specially signed painting.

It is a collage of Youth for Christ events spanning the last 50 years – including a portrayal of Cliff Barrows and Billy Graham when they first traveled to England. Mr. Graham has a copy along with several Youth for Christ leaders.

“The print contains the remark of artist Wayland Moore,” Foote explained in phone interview. “A remark is when the artist does something in the border of the print that is special to you, which makes it one of a kind. That remark makes it significantly worth much, much more because it was for you only.”

When Foote presented Barrows with the print, he said, “Cliff, God has put a remark on your life. The canvas of your life has a remark on it. Many of us have seen it and we are thanking God for the mark He has put on your life.”

Foote then addressed the audience: “The Lord is putting a remark on your lives, too. Do you know what that remark is? It’s the image of His dear son. The Bible says that someday we will be like Him when we see Him face to face. And we have His thumbprint already.”

Looking Back

For more than 60 years, Youth for Christ (YFC) has been communicating the life-changing message of Jesus Christ to young people. The organization was founded in the mid-1940s when dozens of leaders in different places united with a common concern to reach young people. Our present-day church channels were not in place at the time.

With the rapid expansion of the movement, there soon became a need for leadership and organization. In 1944, Chicago pastor Torrey Johnson was elected YFC’s first president, with Billy Graham as YFC’s first full-time worker.

According to the book Billy Graham: God’s Ambassador, Barrows and Graham met in 1945 during a Youth for Christ rally in Asheville, N.C. The scheduled song leader was absent and Barrows, who was on his honeymoon, was asked to lead the singing.

“When we met,” said Barrows, “Billy looked at me with a smile. He grabbed both of my hands and said, ‘No time to be choosy!'”

It was the start of a lifelong ministry together.

Looking Forward

When Barrows accepted the painting, he shared his thoughts not only about the past, but also the future of BGEA: “God has used Mr. Graham and the team to touch the whole world through the inspiration and encouragement that we received those early years through Youth for Christ, through its leadership around the world, and through Torrey Johnson and Bob Cook and succeeding presidents and leaderships. There has been a continuing outreach to youth, which is needed now more than ever before.”

Barrows added, “‘Geared to the times, but anchored to the Rock.’ This was the slogan of Youth for Christ in those early days, and remains true and is more important now than ever before.

“Our commitment to the task of world evangelization still remains as strong as ever in the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association,” he continued. “We have young leadership in place and now seeking to reach out through the Festivals and Celebrations to present the good news of the gospel of Christ.”

Barrows emphasized this one verse, ‘It is God Himself in His mercy who has given us this wonderful task of telling the good news to others. So, we never give up. We aren’t interested in tricking anyone to believe that the Bible will teach us what it doesn’t, we stand in the presence of Christ and so we proclaim the truth.’

“That is our continuing desire to remain faithful in the task of reaching the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

“This presentation from Youth for Christ to me has been a great reminder of the leadership I’ve received inspiration from and for which I thank God for,” Barrows concluded. “I will always remember what these men have done and what these men mean… and pray God’s richest blessings to rest upon them.”