Pastor Peterson's Pericopes


I was saddened to hear that Billy Graham died. He was 99.


Often in adult classes, I would ask questions about modern day disciples. Who is a faithful witness for us today? Who do we look up to in our day and age? The same three names would usually come up: Mother Teresa, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Billy Graham.


I went to one of his crusades when I was a teenager. I went mostly out of curiosity. I was also skeptical of him. All I knew was Lutheran, and Graham was a Southern Baptist. Living in the Deep South, I had negative impressions of Southern Baptists. But his words transcended those denominational lines. I found myself drawn to go down for the altar call.


Jimmy Swaggart worked his televangelism out of Louisiana. I watched his rise and fall. And what a fall from grace it was. Of course, there was also the flame out of Jim and Tammy Bakker. I kept wondering if Billy Graham would fall into same trap of ego, fame, and money. He never did. Instead, he lived a very humble life despite his fame.


It’s estimated that Graham’s crusades reached over 215 million people. My first call was at a church in Littleton. During the time I was there, one of Graham’s crusades came to Denver. I wasn’t able to attend, but weeks later, we received a package of cards. They were from Billy Graham’s ministry. On the cards were the names of people who had come down to be saved at the crusade. And their zip codes matched the zip code of the church. We were encouraged to follow up with them. I’m sure churches all over Denver received a package of these cards.


That surprised me. But it shouldn’t have. I believe it shows the integrity of the ministry. It wasn’t about the money or the numbers, but about making disciples.


I also appreciated Graham’s honesty. He was often the pastor to our presidents, from Truman to Obama. But he later questioned whether he should have done that. He thought he should have kept more distance from the politics. He also wished he had gotten more involved in the Civil Rights movement. He regretted not marching in Selma.


We have lost a good and faithful servant. For me, he still remains a witness of faithfulness.

Pastor Peterson



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