Reverend Billy Graham reached millions of people through his appearances, crusades, and more through his pioneering use of television and radio to spread the gospel.
Of those millions reached, a Columbus pastor says one of Graham’s crusades is what led him into ministry.
Pastor Emeritus, Don Wilhite, says he has mixed feelings about Graham’s death. He says on one hand, he feels “great joy”, because he knows Rev. Graham is home. On the other, he says, sadness, because of the impact Graham had on his life.
Wilhite his life changed in 1963.
“I was in my home, watching television, heard the gospel presentation, and in the end, he invited those not there, around the world or whatever, to receive Christ,” says Wilhite.
Wilhite says he vividly remembers watching Rev. Graham preach to a crowd in Las Angeles. The crusade aired nationwide, and Wilhite says it reached him in his Birmingham, Ala home.
“i didn’t go to church. I didn’t know anything about church. I can count on one hand how many times I went to church, how many times I went to church for anything before I was twenty years of age. I listened to him preach the first night out of curiosity. I listened to him preach the second night out of conviction.”
Wilhite says he received Christ during the alter call, beginning his walk with the Lord that would lead him into the ministry.
In 1972, Wilhite says he heard Rev. Graham was bringing his crusade to Birmingham, giving him the opportunity to share his testimony.
Wilhite says he attended a press conference with the reverend.
“One of the reporters asked him this question, ‘Dr. Graham, do you really think that all those people that go to those stadiums, that they are really saved and their lives have changed? Do you really that it sticks?’ and he said, ‘Where’s that young man I spoke to a while ago? Come up here.'”
Wilhite says this interaction inspired him to touch the lives of thousands with Calvary Christian Ministries. He says the sixty-two acre campus is the largest church organization in the city of Columbus, and some of its programs extend world-wide.
“All of this is a part of the heritage of Billy Graham.”