At the Los Angeles Coliseum in 1963, Helmut Thielicke, a distinguished German theologian and preacher, heard Billy Graham for the first time. Thielicke had come reluctantly. German pastors had been suspicious of mass rallies ever since Hitler used them to manipulate and seduce their nation.
His visit led to an unlikely encounter.
After the crusade Thielicke wrote Graham: "The evening was a profound 'penance' experience (poenitentia) for me. … When I have been asked now and again about your preaching, I have certainly not been too modest to make one or two theological observations. My evening with you made clear to me (and the Holy Spirit will have helped in doing so!) that the question should be asked in the reverse form: What is lacking in me and in my colleagues in the pulpit … that makes Billy Graham so necessary?" Thielicke concluded: "We learn to see ourselves as various dabs of paint upon the incredibly colorful palette of God."
Graham, characteristically, ...1