A signal to the choir from ebullient emcee Cliff Barrows and the Greater London Crusade was under way. Billy was back, at the invitation of a group of laymen who thought “God has given him special gifts.” It was Graham’s biggest British effort since the famous Harringay meeting twelve years ago.
The opening-night crowd at the Earls Court indoor stadium was 19,000 (the hall holds 27,000), 2,000 of whom were in the choir. Oddly symbolic was the announcement that a lost and found department was operating. The meeting followed the familiar Graham pattern until he invited listeners to make a commitment or rededication by coming forward. Where the music ought to have started up, the choir and organ remained silent.
A lithe young Negro came first; then from all over the arena a steady stream of people: well-dressed, shabby, flamboyant, young, old, Oriental, European, African, at least as many men as women. They overflowed the platform area until the line was halfway up one aisle, 447 of them. It was three times the first-night response in 1954.
The second night’s meeting, aimed primarily at youth, drew 15,000, who heard a remarkable testimony halfway through from weight-lifter Paul Anderson, called the world’s strongest man. Once again, Billy Graham’s appeal was given without musical accompaniment. There were 734 inquirers, three-fourths of them under twenty-five.
Two newsmen watching such scenes were baffled. Finally one muttered a shade uneasily, “At least none of us are going forward.” “How do you explain it?” whispered the other. Answer came there none, but they had a whole month to pursue their inquiries.
The press reception in general has been more favorable than in 1954. Some news hawks have moved into Graham’s hotel, and others ...1
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