Because Annual Council in Battle Creek finished early, I and the other two officers from the SPD were able to visit the Billy Graham museum at Wheaton College (Chicago, IL) before beginning our plane journey home.
For more than half a century Billy Graham was a household name because of his large public evangelistic meetings around the world. The essence of his message was a simple and clear call to follow Jesus, to which thousands responded. The museum highlighted the evangelist’s life and work but really honoured and uplifted Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord.
I cannot ever recall hearing Billy Graham until visiting the museum and viewing the historical films. However, I recognise his impact—even in the South Pacific, where he held meetings in several Australian and New Zealand cities. In fact, the biggest crowd to ever fill the Melbourne Cricket Ground was on March 15, 1959, when more than 130,000 people came to hear Graham proclaim the gospel. I pastored in and around Melbourne for eight years and met many people who were part of that crowd. Some of them became Seventh-day Adventists. It’s worth noting that Graham also had his critics, with some claiming “he only made believers and not disciples”.
God has a powerful ministry amongst other Christians. Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you” (Luke 9:50 ESV), to James and John when they wanted to shut down another’s valid ministry. The apostle Paul wrote, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow” (1 Corinthians 3:6 ESV).
Jesus needs more harvesters for His kingdom (Luke 10:1,2). Recognising the value of other Christian ministries does not negate our biblical distinctives like the seventh-day Sabbath, soul sleep in death, the Sanctuary and judgement. Having a fuller message enables us to really make disciples with Jesus and not just believers.