Thursday, 1 March 2018

'What Will Be My legacy?' with reference to Billy Graham by Jim Rea

The article below is a tribute to Billy Graham, written originally for radio in November 2016 by my friend Rev Jim Rea, and entitled:
'What Will Be My Legacy?'
My earliest memories of November is my childhood days of the early 1950s when our teacher in Mayo St. Primary School explained the meaning of the poppy. Yet unlike today the First World War was hardly mentioned. We heard little or nothing about the Battle the Somme. In the early 1950s the results of World War 2 were visible everywhere. It was the evil deeds of Adolf Hitler that dominated the memories of Belfast people. The waste grounds caused by bombing and the deaths of the over one thousand people killed in Belfast in the air raids of 1941 dominated the memory.
When I watch old film footage what I often note was the amazing power Adolf Hitler had over others. Today the German people find the very sound of his name excruciatingly. The legacy he has left behind means we need to be watchful of extremists/ who while appearing to be convincing are highly dangerous.
However in stark contrast this month offers me another memory. Born on the 7th November 98 years ago this person came from humble farming stock in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was named/ William Franklin Graham . In 1989 I had the momentary pleasure of meeting the man better known as Billy Graham. He appeared shy but courteous. More significant was the night I heard him preach at Windsor Park Belfast to 50,000 people in 1961. I was sixteen at the time but will ever remember his text, probably the most well known verse in the Bible, John 3:16. He emphasised  how God truly loved the world by sending Jesus. No race, religion or, ethnicity was excluded. When he made his appeal thousands stood on the pitch to surrender their lives to Christ.
Fifty five years on I still meet people and have heard endless first hand stories about the man whose message transformed their lives. When asked recently about the legacy he hopes to leave, he answered. "I want the world to remember Billy Graham as a man who dedicated his life to the Lord and never looked back"
Billy Graham too had a presence but it was diametrically opposite to that of Adolf Hitler. He was a force for good, unlike Hitler's legacy of destruction and evil. While many of us listening may not gain notoriety by fame or infamy. we will all leave a legacy of some sort. In this period after a week of remembrance it is good to ask ourselves the question, "What legacy will I leave ?"

No comments: