by Will Graham
The year was 1954, and my grandfather was crossing the Atlantic on the SS United States, preparing to preach in London. Days before landing, the captain of the ship received a news report via radio. A member of Parliament had announced his intention to, “challenge in Commons the admission of Billy Graham to England on the grounds the American evangelist was interfering in British politics under the guise of religion.”
This was only the latest in a series of discouragements. One newspaper editor had already written that “Billy Graham will fall … on his face in London.” A bishop proclaimed, “Billy Graham will return to the United States with his tail between his legs.”
My grandfather, speaking honestly in his autobiography, admitted to being scared. “I put on a brave smile for the media,” he wrote, “but I had to quietly remind myself of the spiritual truth I had learned so long ago: in my weakness, I was made strong by God’s grace.”
Although it was a tumultuous time, my grandfather was ultimately allowed into London, and that outreach became one of the defining moments of his evangelistic ministry. More than two million people heard the gospel, with 38,447 people making eternity-altering decisions for Jesus.
It seems to me that the attempts to block or mock my grandfather took place because people were equating my grandfather’s faith to his nationality. In their eyes, he was an American first and a preacher of the gospel second. I believe that the impact of that Crusade – which is still felt in London today – proves that this was not the case.
In my own ministry, I’ve preached around the world, and I can tell you that the gospel is not American or Americanized.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is for all people, and every generation.
Let me share two thoughts on this:
First, the human condition is the same, regardless of where you are in the world. Whether people are in North Carolina, Taiwan, India, or Uganda, they want to be loved. They want safety and security for their families. They want hope in this world and for eternity.
With very few exceptions, every culture has a sense of right and wrong, and many acknowledge the existence of God (or some sort of deity).
Second, the gospel transcends every barrier. When you share the truth of Jesus Christ, it transcends culture, it transcends people, it transcends gender, and it transcends needs.
The Bible is a living book that is supernatural in origin. It speaks to people where they are, and through every station of life. From innocent children to elderly grandparents staring into the face of eternity, the Bible addresses the needs and struggles of all humanity.
Everybody – regardless of nationality or culture – can identify that there’s a God who created them, who loves them, and who wants to have a relationship with them. We can still talk about sin and the effects of it, and we can talk about how Jesus died on the cross to pay the debt and punishment that was justly ours. We can share about a personal, intimate relationship with Him.
My friends, it doesn’t matter what nationality you are. Nor does it matter what nationality your friend is as you share the love of Jesus. The gospel isn’t an American institution; it’s for all people. Just express the hope you have, and let the Holy Spirit do the rest!
Will Graham (William Franklin Graham IV) (@tellagraham), grandson of Billy Graham, is an associate evangelist and vice president with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. He has proclaimed the gospel across six continents since beginning his evangelistic ministry in 2006. He is also executive director of the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in Asheville, N.C.