A Greater Vision

Billy Graham's bottom line never changes: 'Are we really being used to change people?'

More than 50 years ago—it was in 1953—Billy Graham awoke at 2 A.M. with dreams for a magazine. "Trying not to disturb Ruth," he wrote in his autobiography, "I slipped out of bed and into my study upstairs to write. A couple of hours later, the concept for a new magazine was complete. I thought its name should be Christianity Today." Billy used that document to recruit board members and staff and to raise the necessary resources. The first issue was distributed in October 1956 to more than 200,000 pastors and church leaders.

Twenty-five years ago, we published CT's 25th anniversary issue, with Billy on the cover. Our founder responded to questions with lively, incisive insights.

This summer, in CT's 50th anniversary year, we were to meet with Billy again. We anticipated less lively repartee on evangelical currents and world events this time. On the plane to North Carolina, Christianity Today International (CTI) president Paul Robbins and I read Newsweek's August 14 cover story, "Billy Graham in Twilight." Yet he had preached earlier in the summer in Baltimore and, before that, in his "final" New York City crusade.

Our car climbed up a steep, narrow road over the multiple folds of rugged Blue Ridge woodlands to his mountaintop home. As we pulled up, three dogs gazed lazily at us. Inside the modest log home, we soon saw Billy's tall, lanky form moving slowly toward us down a long hall. His warm welcome matched his sunny smile.

The day before, Billy told us, he'd felt a great deal of pain, but today he was much better. "Everything is nostalgia now," he said, explaining that he is largely isolated.

Despite bodily limitations, he stays engaged, reading The New York Times, Christianity Today, 1776 by David McCullough, and, ...

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