And, wherever I am, and wherever Billy is having a Crusade, if I happen
to be in the area, I always want to participate and to let people
know. You know, so many people say, "Oh, does it last?"
Well, it sure lasted with me! And it depends, I think, on how much...on how much
follow-up and how deeply...how deeply you really mean that little prayer that we
FERM: It really turned your life around, didn't it? Maybe not overnight, but over a period of time.
McCOLLLM: Well, mine was practically overnight. I mean, I don' t have one of these dramatic stories. Well I, in my case, you see, our priest told us all to go to the Crusade, so we did night after night. I would see the people walking forward, and I thought, "Isn't that wonderful! The need it. Because, you see, I had always been active in the church. I'm a fourth generation Lutheran. I went to a Methodist college. My family went to Florida in the winters. There was no Lutheran church, so every winter we were winter Presbyterians. And then when I married and moved to Long Island I became an Episcopalian, which I have been for many, many, thirty years or more. So, I'm rather ecumenical, and having been a singer, I have sung on year's contracts in every denomination. Cardinal Cooke, our New York Catholic cardinal, took me with him to Rome for his elevation at the Sacred College of Cardinals. He did not invite me to go with his party because I'm an Episcopalian or because I was born a Lutheran. He invited me because I speak for Catholic convents, Catholic schools, and Catholic priories. I share my faith with my Catholic friends so that they, too, want to make a rededication or a first commitment, or firm things up with the Lord. You may use whatever terminology you wish. So he has been very supportive in my ministry, and he has been helpful in obtaining the information for some of the translations of the American Bible Society so that they can be used by the Catholics as well. So I have had an ecumenical background, and I felt that I was being a very good "Christian" because I sang every Sunday. For sixteen years I was soloist in the synagogue on Fridays and Saturdays so I knew the Old Testament. I didn't see any reason I should go forward. I thought that was for people who had robbed banks, murdered, or had some major, horrible vice like that. Little by little, I wanted to go forward and firm up my relationship with the Lord. But I wouldn't get up in front of my friends, all of the carloads that we took in, because after all I was a Christian, and I didn't want anyone to call me a "Holy Joe." So, I finally drove in from our home in Long Island all alone one night. Then I had the courage to slip up to the platform and to pray a little prayer like, "Lord, I don't understand all of this, but I know I am not perfect. So, Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross for me. Tonight I want to give me to you, and thank you. It isn't much, but it's all I have. Lord, you can use me the rest of my life. Well, now, I thought no one would ever find out. I'm not going to tell anyone I've done this "silly thing." I went to church the next Sunday, and my priest said, "Eleanor, that is wonderful. I said, "What?" He said, "That you went forward!" I thought, "Oh, my gracious, how did he ever find out? You see, I didn't know about the little comment cards that we fill out. He said, "That's great, now, three other friends of yours have done it in secret, too. So, now we're going to start a Bible class next week in your home." I said, "Oh, Dr. Underwood, I don't know the Bible." He said, "Now, I'll come and teach the first few lessons."
FERM: He was so wise, wasn't he?
McCOLLUM: Oh, yes.
FERM: To get you into the Word right away.
McCOLLUM: That's the only way to grow. People that go forward must have nurture. It's like babies. Milk of the Word.
FERM: That's right.
McCOLLUM: So, we started our little Bible class the next week, and we've been going ever since. Then Fred Underwood said, "Now, I'll get some of Billy Graham' s Team members to come out and teach the class as well ." So, all during the time that Billy was there, we had some of the members of the Team come and teach our Thursday morning Bible class. We grew in numbers and multiplied and then divided into other little groups. People would say, "Well, Eleanor, now really what happened to you?" I said, "Well, I don't know. I just told the Lord He could use me. “ Then friends would say, “Will you come and tell this to my friends in my home?” So this practically did happen immediately, that the Lord used me in a different way.