The raincoat-clad profile (see above) was familiar. Many of the 10,000 or more huddled against the cold downpour at Manchester’s Maine Road Stadium would even have said that it was Billy Graham himself. Graham, however, was confined to a London hotel room with a throat infection. The preacher was Graham’s associate evangelist and look-alike protégé, Leighton Ford, tapped to take over the first week of the Manchester crusade.
Prior to sailing for England, Graham had contracted a mild case of flu. Aboard ship, a secondary infection set in, and before a battery of television and newsreel cameras, radio microphones and press reporters at Southampton, he talked himself hoarse.
Graham was subsequently ordered to bed. His ailment seemed to defy the usual antibiotics. Preliminary meetings in Manchester were cancelled. On the eve of the actual crusade opening, doctors gave Graham a thorough examination. Their verdict: another week in bed.
Team members were gratified at the reception given Ford by the public. He preached for the first five nights, and by Friday, June 2, the crowd had doubled.
Graham was still troubled by a slight fever when he took the platform for the first time on June 3, fortified with 5,000,000 units of penicillin (average dose: 300,000).
“God will not deal with us or give us peace while we are in our sins,” he declared in a voice modulated by the effects of his ailment. “Christ’s blood is the only detergent to wash your sins away.”
Strongly in evidence was the enthusiasm of church people in Manchester. Many of the clergy followed the lead of the Rt. Rev. W. D. L. Greer, Bishop of Manchester, and pitched in with the zeal and industriousness that has made Lancashire famous.
Nonetheless, a measure of hostility was likewise ...1
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