Our beloved brother, Billy Graham, passed away yesterday from this earth into the loving arms of the Father that he loved with all his heart. This article will share my thoughts on evangelism of children and what I learned from this great man who understood that Jesus is the answer to all our problems.
It was 1985 and I had just learned that Billy Graham was going to have a crusade in my “backyard” of Anaheim, CA. I was part of a small College Bible study and I remember asking our leader, Frank Rice, if he thought I would be a good “counselor” at the crusade. Frank smiled at me that great smile that he always had and said, “I have no doubt that God will use you, Kathy.” Little did I know at that point in my life, God would indirectly use Billy to lead me into the evangelism of children.
With that encouragement, I went to the instructional workshop that was given in the local area hosted by the “Billy Graham Crusades Organization.” It was held at Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa and I remember the place was packed. The instructors led us through the steps of praying with someone to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. They gave us small books that we were to share with possible “recruits for the kingdom of God.”
The night of the crusade came and I had invited a couple of friends who did not know the Lord. Those of us who had been trained to pray with people during Billy’s invitation to receive Jesus were to sit throughout the stadium and be ready to come down on the field when the time came.
I can still remember the pulse and energy in that stadium. It was exciting and I was so glad that I had chosen to participate in this 331st crusade of Dr. Billy Graham.
Dr. Graham’s message was clear and simple, as always – Come to Jesus. He loves you. He can solve all your problems. Just come.
And come, they did. Hundreds of people poured down to the field along with myself, only 20 years old at the time.
The Lord sent me a couple, a man and woman, in their 30’s, who wanted to ask Jesus into their lives. I prayed with them and followed the steps in the book. I felt so blessed and I could tell they felt blessed, too. My prayer was that their lives would be forever changed because they believed in Jesus. I knew my life had been changed because I participated along with Billy and hundreds of other “counselors” to help people come to Jesus.
Fast forward to 1995, I began my own ministry of evangelism of children. The “Scripture Lady” was born and there are a few things I’ve learned about sharing Jesus to children and all ages of people in general.
I think the following 3 ideas for the evangelism of children can be pulled from my one great experience with Dr. Billy Graham:
- Learn HOW TO give an invitation: The “Billy Graham Crusades Organization” did not just let a bunch of people loose on the fields to pray for people to receive Jesus as their Savior. They instructed us. I, for one, needed that instruction. Up until that point, I had only led one person to the Lord, and while that was a great experience, I knew I needed and wanted more help to be effective when sharing Jesus with someone. Don’t get me wrong, the Holy Spirit can and will lead you to pray with someone to accept Jesus anytime and anywhere, but when you have foundational instructions for praying with people to receive Jesus, you will be filled with more confidence and “tools” from God’s Word to help fulfill the great commission. If you want to participate in the evangelism of children, get trained to do so. The more you learn how to reach children for Jesus, the more Jesus will use you to reach children.
- Share God’s clear and simple message: Do you know why Billy Graham was so successful? Simply put, he was a simple man. Crusade after crusade, he preached the same message: Come to Jesus. He loves you. He can solve all your problems. Just come. Dr. Graham, though he had his phd, kept to the life-changing and simple message that God has ordained since the beginning of time. Are there depths to the Bible that no mere man can understand? Absolutely. But Billy stuck to what was most important – that God loves you and sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross to forgive you of your sin. If you believe in Him, you will have eternal life. When sharing about Jesus to children, keep the message simple and they will run to His side. However, a simple message does NOT mean that your presentation is easy. Children, especially American children, need lots of great visuals and creative ways to learn the Bible.
- We are to carry on the message: Dr. Billy Graham is with Jesus now. I think if it were possible for Billy to peak his head through heaven’s gates to us, he would say, “Carry on. Don’t stop. Keep sharing Jesus. People need Him more than ever.” Children need Jesus more than ever. I see it every time I get in front of them. Their teachers need Jesus, too. There are wrong, wicked and misleading doctrines that are being taught to our children every day in their schools. If they only get one hour a week with you to learn about Jesus, make sure it’s the BEST HOUR YOU CAN GIVE THEM.
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