The SGA family joins believers around the world in mourning the passing of noted evangelist Rev. Billy Graham. Yet we also rejoice with thanksgiving because Rev. Graham is now in the presence of the Lord he loved and served for most of his long, fruitful life.
SGA has a long connection with Rev. Graham. In 1949 as he was launching his first evangelistic crusade in Los Angeles, California, Rev. Graham had been active in Youth for Christ’s prayer meetings. It was at one of these events that he met SGA founder Peter Deyneka, who led many of the prayer sessions. As Peter’s daughter Ruth explains:
“Remembering my father’s passion for prayer, Billy Graham contacted my father and invited him to travel to Los Angeles just before the crusade was about to begin. For several days, they both prayed together seeking the Lord’s blessing on the upcoming meetings. God heard and answered their prayers, with tens of thousands of people coming to Christ! My father was also often invited to the large European Youth for Christ Congresses where Rev. Graham also spoke. My father’s role was to lead the prayer sessions.”
Decades later in 1982, Billy Graham made history traveling to Moscow and preaching the Gospel at the Central Baptist Church. After the fall of communism, he returned to Russia in 1992 to lead evangelistic crusades. It was a joyful time for SGA and Billy Graham, and the fruit of prayers that had begun with Billy Graham and Peter Deyneka in California decades ago. More than this, recently retired SGA president Bob Provost himself came to Christ in 1968 as a young man attending a Billy Graham crusade in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Facing his own diminishing health as well as that of his wife Ruth, Billy Graham reluctantly retired from public crusade evangelism in 2005 at the age of 86. Only eternity will reveal the number of people who came to saving faith in Christ as Rev. Graham preached the Gospel. When asked how he wanted to be remembered, he replied, “I want to be remembered as a person who was faithful to God, faithful to my family, faithful to the Scriptures, and faithful to my calling — a man who dedicated his life to the Lord and never looked back.”
Rev. Graham leaves an eternal legacy and one for which we are deeply thankful at Slavic Gospel Association. Truly . . . Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones (Psalm 116:15). Please join us in praying for the entire Graham family as they grieve, as well as celebrating the Gospel work of the most prominent Christian evangelist of the 20th Century.