Forty years after the fact, Denny Wayman can still remember one of his first experiences with evangelism—and it took place in a movie theatre in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Wayman was still in junior high school when World Wide Pictures, the movie studio founded by evangelist Billy Graham, produced The Restless Ones (1965), a film about juvenile delinquents, teen pregnancy, and other social issues. The film ends with Graham issuing an altar call at one of his crusades, and just as the characters in the movie are encouraged to come forward, so too the audience in the movie theatre was invited to take a stand for Christ. And Wayman was one of the counselors who stood, waiting, at the front.
"It was pretty memorable, because it kind of takes you out of your comfort zone as a ninth or tenth grader," recalls Wayman, who was one of over 30 counselors who had been trained by Graham's organization prior to the film's screening. "Back then, they sent out a team—I think it was three or four people—and they met with us for two weeks at the church, and they trained us in personal evangelism and how to lead a person to Christ."
Wayman remembers praying with a boy three years younger than himself, taking the young man's follow-up card, and referring him to a church. "I would not say that the films, as films, were a big part of my spiritual life; but I would say that that experience of evangelism training and being responsible for the film, and for a person's soul, was dramatic," he says today.
The Restless Ones marked a number of turning points in the history of World Wide Pictures. At a time when Hollywood films were becoming increasingly risqué—the industry's morality code was abandoned and replaced with the current ...