Text of "Christian Life and Times Interviews Billy Graham" by Karl T. Lockwood.
It appeared in the July 1947 issue of Christian Life and Times
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Not since the days of D. L. Moody, R. A. Torrey and Charles Alexander has an American evangelistic team in Britain attracted such large crowds nor witnessed so many Spirit controlled conversions as the recently returned Youth for Christ team.
The team included: Cliff and Billie Barrows; George Wilson, Gavin Hamilton and Billy Graham.
Believing that Christian Life and Times readers, who have been following this group with their prayers, would like to hear from the leader of the Youth for Christ British team, we present highlights of a- very interesting interview held shortly after Billy Graham returned to the United States.
QUESTION: When we read that Rev. T. L. Livermore, Vicar of St. John’s, Deptford, discarded his clerical collar in favor of one of your red and blue neckties, we were astounded, but what truth is there in the rumor that you preached several sermons in a formal gown?
ANSWER: In most of the churches England and Scotland, we were requested to preach at the Sunday morning services in formal gowns. Once, Aberdeen, my hosts insisted that I wear a clerical collar, but they finally agreed to allow me to wear a dark tie and a formal gown. I wore a gown only three places—Belfast, Dublin ai Aberdeen—because most often we were especially requested to wear bow-ties and loud clothes. No! Preaching in a formal gown did not hamper me. Frankly, I enjoyed it. I used plain American gospel preaching, and the Lord gave us a great spiritual time.
Q. Is it true that as late as February 13 the anti-Christian opposition, the clerical nonchalance and the phys cal rigors of living in foodless, fuelless England almost tempted you and your co-workers to return to America
A. Yes, we were almost tempted to scuttle our campaign. The first six to eight weeks we were greeted everywhere with suspicion. Wicked persons had started a whispering campaign and everywhere it was. believed that we sponsored all types of worldly entertainments. In Belfast, the Christians were told that we served whiskey after dances and scores of persons actually believed that we had a traveling circus of animals that pretended to preach the gospel. As this opposition made its rounds, it became worse.
The most discouraging circumstances, however, were encountered in the wake of the terrible shortage of fuel that caused many of our meetings to be canceled. It was bad; twelve hours of the day there could be no use made of electricity. In Dublin, all three of us (Graham, Barrows and his wife) were in bed with the flu. The promise of Scripture that meant most to us at this time was the one in which Moses asked God, “Lord, why hast thou sent us?” And God answered: “Now thou art about to see what I am going to do.” After a week of praying, many of our meetings were rearranged, and we began on the following night and the greatest times of spiritual refreshing came. After the Birmingham meeting, the clergy was solidly on our side.
Q. What, in your opinion, was the grandest event of your United Kingdom campaign?
A.In an experience covering six months of soul-winning, it is exceedingly difficult to single out any one event, but I do believe that the most potent single event was the First British YFC Conference in Birmingham.
A: Back in November we began to see the desperate need to get evangelicals: together. There is more theological strife in Britain than in America. We felt the need of calling evangelical youth leaders to discuss various youth phases, techniques and plans. And so we called together a group of leader in Eastbourne and discussed the idea of having a convention of leaders which would be unprecedented in Britain be cause the small salaries paid the clergy do not permit extensive traveling.
Altogether about 250 leaders of youth came together in Birmingham to compare notes and to pray and plan for the future. Every part of the British Isles was represented, the team from Scotland being particularly numerous There were also delegates from Den mark, Holland, Belgium and France. A U.S. chaplain represented Germany and there were a number of outstanding laymen from North America present at this momentous convention.
Speaking of the spirit of unanimity in aim and purpose, Montague Goodman, a leading brother among the Plymouth Brethren, declared: “I have never attended a convention in which the Holy Spirit had as complete charge as this one.”
Q. In view of the appalling need for Christian workers in England, it would be edifying if you would relate the details of the momentous Saturday nigh meeting of the Belfast campaign.
A. At least one meeting in every campaign we presented a missionary challenge. In Belfast two meetings were held on the same night, one at 7:00 and another at 8:00. 175 made a response in the first meeting and 130 ‘1 the second meeting. Mr. Thompson of the India General Mission dealt wi them, and later declared that never he seen that many young people who “meant business with God.”
Q. Undoubtedly, you have enjoy many unusual experiences as you preached and talked to the unsaved Please tell us one or two choice items.
A. We had moved from Holborn Hall to St. John’s Church. That night I felt that I was preaching in the power of the Spirit. None moved at the invitation. We sang a second hymn which we never did before. Down the aisle came a well dressed, handsome man; he gripped my hand with a tight grip that seemed to penetrate all through me and said: “I want to know your Christ–I need Him.” I dealt with him as a little child. He got up and with his face beaming said: “I’m the happiest I ever been in my life.” At the door he was greeted by two persons who we converted in our last meetings in the city. I was then told that this man was the District Attorney for the city of ________________(Manchester). Monday morning this man called his entire office force together and said: “From now on this office will be run on Christian principles. I’ve been converted.” This, I believe, is the solution to social problems.
At Newcastle-on-Tyne, a black man was sitting in the rear of the auditorium and when the invitation was given he came down and as he was dressed qt strangely, J was attracted to him. I asked: “Do you want to be a Christian?” He accepted Christ and a great big smile came across his face with hi pearly teeth showing, and said: “I’m“ the happiest I’ve ever been. This is wonderful; I’ve never known anything this.” This man was the son of a Nigerian Chief, whom, upon his father’s death, would take over the tribe and was studying at the university. He added: ‘Tm going back to my people in Nigeria and tell them about the wonderful Saviour we have in Christ.”
Q. The secular and religious press of both Britain and America has reported your activities for the past six months. The testimony from every quarter has been honoring to our Saviour and complimentary to you. My question now is “What spiritual reaction has taken place in your own heart and soul as a result of this campaign”
A. At least three direct results of our British meetings have already become apparent to me. (1) My own Christian life has been deepened because in England a great deal of stress is laid on victorious living. I learned a great deal from the many men of God that I came to contact with and the impression they ave made on my life is very deep. (2) My own missionary vision has been broadened. Something happened to me as I watched the hardened Communists (in Paris) march down the streets with their anti-God slogans and banners... . . I realized anew that now is the time to evangelize Europe. It was appalling to learn that out of 999 young people out of every 1,000 in England never go to any type of church, and it was glorious :see some of these same thousands flock into our meetings even though I preached every night for almost a solid hour. (3) I am conscious of a deep sense of need on the part of our own country to present a Christian testimony. Europe is looking to America for spiritual as well as economic leadership--we must not fail them. We must present a clear testimony.
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