If anybody knows about running a race with perseverance it is Billy Graham. The 80-year-old evangelist made racing the theme of his four-day crusade in Indianapolis last month, borrowing the terminology and glory of sports to clothe the gospel in sweat, grit, and relevance.
The analogy went over well at the home of the Indy 500, and when NASCAR racer Jeff Gordon stepped on stage to share his testimony, the crowd of 50,000 rose to its feet to welcome him with a conquerer's pomp. "Racing is just a small part of my life compared to my relationship with Jesus Christ," Gordon declared.
Other athletes shared their testimonies as well, including Dallas Cowboys cornerback Deion Sanders and the Indiana Pacers' Mark Jackson. In his final sermon, Graham focused on an eight-point comparison between playing sports and living the Christian life.
RUNNING TOGETHER: The June crusade marked the third time Graham has held such events in Indianapolis, following visits in 1959 and 1980.
More than 900 churches of 35 de nominations partnered with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) to prepare for the crusade. Their unified efforts to impact their city will continue through a series of community festivals dubbed Love-in-Action. The festivals will take place in parks through out the city and offer free medical screenings, as well as distribute food, clothing, and health products. Churches are also continuing to challenge members to volunteer with domestic-violence assistance, homeless services, prison ministries, and teen pregnancy and adoption programs.
"We don't want what we've accomplished to end here tonight," said Russ Blowers, honorary chair of the crusade's executive committee.
Pastors and performers at each service represented a mix ...1