Wednesday 14 March 2018

Remembering Billy Graham

Photo source: Herald Sun

The Year 1979

The photo at left was taken in 1979 at one of Mr. Graham’s crusade meetings held at Sydney’s largest racecourse. 1979! Oh what a year. I think back on it with great fondness. I was in Year 10 at school and I particularly loved that school year. I even did well at Science that was a first for me. It gave me a boost especially as I wanted to follow in my Dad’s footsteps and study medicine. When it came to selecting my subjects for the final two years of school, I ignored the vocational guidance tests that indicated I was more suited to arts-style courses, and chose to study physics and chemistry so as to give myself a chance of qualifying for medicine. I soon discovered in the early weeks of Year 11 that I really wasn’t cut out for either of them. Darn!

But more significantly in 1979 I met Jesus. Because of Mr. Graham.

I had been attending youth fellowship and church for about nine months when Mr. Graham’s crusade came to town. So many of us from church attended that we had buses ferry us to the other side of Sydney to Randwick Racecourse to attend each night. We had a lot of fun on those bus trips.

I attended five nights. To hear Mr. Graham speak. To hear more about this person, Jesus Christ. I responded to his alter call invitation on the first night. I remember that stirring in the gut, will I/won’t I, and then having to make a long trek from my seat in one of the stands to the front of the stage. I was met by a man, one of hundreds of volunteers, who said a few things and gave me a small book. I never heard from him again. But that didn’t matter. I’d accepted Jesus into my life. I was born again.

Just the beginning

Soon after the crusades finished I enrolled in confirmation classes at my church. Yes, we had eight to ten weeks of classes in the home of one of the great families in the church to learn more about what being a Christian meant. In addition, we were given an overview of various disciplines like prayer and reading the Bible.

I also needed to be baptized as my parents didn’t baptize any of us when we were young. This created a bit of angst with my Dad. He challenged me to consider ALL the alternatives to Christianity and even asked me to read a book written by Carl Sagan who was a recognized God-skeptic. I read it but it didn’t discourage me in my decision. Dad appreciated the fact I read the book and even though he still questioned my decision he allowed me to proceed.

The journey

It has only taken me another almost 40 years to begin to better understand who Jesus is and how much He loves me but gosh I’ve loved the journey. Certainly, there have been many valleys where I’ve struggled in my walk but I’ve come to realise the importance of communicating with the Lord, reading His Word all the time, and being in community with other believers is so important to moving forward. Most of my valleys have been times of when I’ve tried to do life on my own terms. It’s been in learning that God made us to be dependent on Him that I’ve discovered the victory we have in daily walking with Him.


Thank you, Mr Graham, for introducing me to Jesus. There have been so many wonderful and much deserved tributes dedicated to the great man but it’s kinda special for me to know that I’m one of the many millions who carry the legacy of the incredible life he lived. I’ll always treasure his memory.

Now your turn. Love us all to share in the comments of someone who has played a key role in your faith walk. What about Billy Graham? Did you attend one of his crusades?

Ian Acheson is an author and strategy consultant based in Sydney. Ian's first novel of speculative fiction, Angelguard was recognised with the 2014 Selah Award for Speculative Fiction.You can find more about Angelguard at Ian's website, on his author Facebook page and Twitter


  1. What a great memory, Ian! I remember the BG crusade in the early 90s (?) when we gathered at our local high school together with hundreds of other Christians, and were linked to a BG broadcast. I’m so glad Mr Graham made the long journey down under in the 1960s, when my parents attended a crusade and were saved - thus leading to my growing up in a Christian home, and a legacy of faith.

    1. It’s incredible how many lives were touched by Billy Graham whether directly or indirectly. Your parents were saved at one and then you got to watch him on a broadcast. Just 2 more examples of his wide-reaching legacy.

  2. Thanks for sharing your story, Ian. I was blessed to read it. I know so many brothers and sisters who came to know Jesus through the ministry of Billy Graham. What an inspiration it is to see what God can and does do through His children when we choose to follow Him and share Him with others. May God continue to reach and save many through you and others who were touched by the ministry of Billy Graham!
    God used Ron Baker to awaken me to Him at around 6 years of age. Ron spoke at a crusade in my small local town, and I remember just knowing deep in my heart as he spoke, that there was more to life than just me and all I had known in my short time on earth. I felt a connection with someone so much greater than I. As the crusade finished and the crowd sang 'Just as I am', I felt the presence of God. Afterwards I tried to speak to Mr Baker, but he didn't even notice me, just a small child, and that was when I knew it wasn't him who was connecting with me on such a personal level as he spoke, but God.

    1. What a beautiful testimony, Jenny. Thank you for sharing it. Ron Baker even played ‘Just as I am’ and you remember that. At 6. Amazing.


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