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By Will Graham, Cove Executive Director and grandson of Billy Graham
On a daily basis I’m blessed with memories and stories of the many ways God chose to use my grandfather to reach people around the world over the course of many decades. Nearly everywhere I go people stop to tell me about how entire families and generations were impacted by his ministry. It’s humbling.
What many people may not know is that it almost didn’t happen. Everything we know of the ministry of Billy Graham from the late 1940s on – the massive stadium events, the evangelistic movies, the radio programs, the counseling of presidents and kings – hinged on a singular moment in history that took place at the California retreat center of Forest Home.
I visited Forest Home last year to get a fresh perspective on my grandfather’s story, and I’m returning there next week to speak at their annual Summer Family Camp.
As such, now seemed like the right time to share the story of the evangelist named Billy Graham, a discouraged young man searching for answers and direction in his life, unsure of God’s plan for him.
At the mid-point of the 20th century, he had already been an evangelist with Youth For Christ and had preached across Europe in the aftermath of World War II. He had held his first “Billy Graham Crusades” in places like Charlotte, N.C, and Grand Rapids, Mich. He was also the president of Northwestern College in St. Paul, Minn., the youngest college president in the country.
Not everything had gone as planned, however. His crusade in Altoona, Pa., had been – in his own words – “a flop.” It was spiritually difficult and he felt things had gone poorly, and it left him questioning whether or not evangelism should be his focus.
At the same time, a very good friend and contemporary of my grandfather’s, a man named Charles Templeton, had begun challenging my granddaddy’s way of thinking. Mr. Templeton, who had preached with Youth For Christ as well, had gone on to study at Princeton, where he began to believe that the Bible was flawed and that academia – not Jesus – was the answer to life’s problems. He tried to convince my grandfather that his way of thinking was outdated and the Bible couldn’t be trusted.
My grandfather had more questions than answers.
As a young man in his early-30s, all of these things were swirling in his mind when he traveled to California in 1949. Should he invest fully in the college, which he knew meant seeking further education for himself? At the time Northwestern wasn’t accredited, and for it to become so he – as president – would need to get an advanced degree, which would require taking several years off from preaching.
Should he leave the school and follow the calling of an evangelist, even though Altoona had gone so poorly?
Did he even believe the Bible from which he was preaching, or should he follow Templeton in questioning its validity?
It was at this time that my discouraged grandfather reluctantly accepted the invitation of Henrietta Mears to visit and speak at a Christian retreat center called Forest Home. Mears had worked at First Baptist Church in Minneapolis for Pastor Riley, who was also my grandfather’s predecessor at Northwestern, and she was a very well-known and godly woman. She would end up having a huge impact in Hollywood, Calif., as she served as the director of Christian Education at First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood. She took grief for inviting him to speak because he was not part of the camp’s denomination, but God had a plan in all of this.
As I toured Forest Home last year, it moved me greatly to walk the paths that my grandfather walked as he struggled with the Lord, and ultimately had the experience that would change the course of his ministry and the eternities of millions.
You see, while he was at Forest Home, he spent a great deal of time studying the Bible, and he kept seeing the same phrase pop up. “Thus sayeth the Lord… Thus sayeth the Lord…” While my grandfather had always accepted in his head the authority of the Scripture, this became the turning point as he realized in his heart that God’s Word is divinely inspired, eternal and powerful!
One night at Forest Home, he walked out into the woods and set his Bible on a stump – more an altar than a pulpit – and he cried out: “O God! There are many things in this book I do not understand. There are many problems with it for which I have no solution. There are many seeming contradictions. There are some areas in it that do not seem to correlate with modern science. I can’t answer some of the philosophical and psychological questions Chuck and others are raising.”
And then, my grandfather fell to his knees and the Holy Spirit moved in him as he said, “Father, I am going to accept this as Thy Word—by faith! I’m going to allow faith to go beyond my intellectual questions and doubts, and I will believe this to be Your inspired Word!”*
My granddaddy wrote in his autobiography that as he stood up his eyes stung with tears, but he felt the power and presence of God in a way he hadn’t in months. “A major bridge had been crossed,” he said.
The resulting change did not go unnoticed. The next day my granddaddy spoke at Forest Home, and 400 people made a commitment to Christ. Henrietta Mears remarked that he “preached with authority” that she hadn’t seen before from him.
This was August 1949, and mere weeks later Billy Graham would go on to hold the historic 1949 Los Angeles Crusade in the tent erected on the corner of Washington and Hill Streets. That outreach was scheduled to last three weeks, and ended up going for eight weeks as people packed the “Canvas Cathedral” and media outlets nationwide began talking about the upstart evangelist.
Because of that moment kneeling by a stump at Forest Home, I get to hear stories of lives changed through my grandfather’s ministry. Because of that moment, my father and I are invited around the world to share the same hope of Christ that my grandfather preached in Los Angeles and hundreds of other locations both near and far. That moment not only changed Billy Graham’s ministry. It impacted eternity.
*Just As I Am, Billy Graham, 1997
Click here for information on Will Graham’s seminar at The Cove Agust 15-17, 2014.
The beauty of God’s creation will never cease to amaze us here at The Cove. Both the doe and the butterfly were seen near the chapel this week.
As you go about your day, take a look around and notice the beautiful details your Creator has gifted you.
Have a blessed weekend!
Just wrapped up a week of Intensive Bible teaching with Michael Card. Following are a few behind-the-scenes images we thought you would enjoy.
Interested in attending an Intensive Bible Seminar this summer? Click here for information.
It was 2011 and his wife of 32 years had come to him after having struggled for several months in their marriage.
“She felt abandoned. She said I focused more on my ministry than on her,” Eduardo recalls. She asked him to make a decision.
“I felt like a little boat in the ocean without direction. I didn’t know where I was going.”
Eduardo had prayed for a place to get away. A place where he could step away from the daily distractions and hear from God.
“I had to make a decision. I couldn’t wait.”
He first heard about The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, located in the mountains of Asheville, NC, in the 1990’s while living in Miami, FL, but he never visited. It was now, living in Raleigh, NC, just four hours from The Cove, that God reminded him of this place of retreat.
Eduardo called The Cove and booked a Personal Spiritual Retreat.
He asked his wife to wait for him to go to The Cove and be with God.
His wife, who Eduardo credits with being a very godly woman, said yes. She told her husband she would wait and pray.
A few weeks later he made the trip from Raleigh to Asheville. “When I came to The Cove, I felt the presence of God, from the gate, all throughout the property.”
With tears in his eyes, Eduardo whispered, “I felt like God was telling me, ‘I am waiting on you.’”
God told me, “I didn’t bring you to this place to be locked up in a room, I want you outside, in the woods. There I will teach you.”
He spent the following day in the woods from 9 am to 9 pm, walking the trails, meditating on the Scriptures on the prayer pillars and spending time with God.
On his last day Eduardo spent the entire morning and afternoon hiking the 3-1/2 miles to the overlook. “This time was tremendous,” he said. “There are no words.”
What he experienced at the overlook that day “Was so good, I wanted more. I told God I will continue to come here to hear from Him.”
Eduardo returned home a different man. “I was transformed,” he said.
Since that time, Eduardo has come four times on a Personal Spiritual Retreat.
On one of these visits, God laid on his heart to invite men from his Hispanic church in Raleigh to come to The Cove with him. He felt called to bring these men to be with God in the woods.
You can see the passion in Eduardo’s eyes as he shares the birth of this idea, to the planning, to the execution.
“Sometimes with Hispanic families, money is an issue,” he says.
Many of the men work in construction, landscaping and agriculture jobs. “These are not 9-5 jobs with a paid vacation. It is hard for them to plan to be away. Sometimes their bosses will not let them go,” Eduardo’s son Angel explained.
Despite the obstacles, Eduardo admits, “If God poured this on my heart, I knew He would do something.”
Leading up to the retreat, church members began putting away $25 a week, as most of them could not afford the expense all at once. Those that were more financially stable and felt lead also gave, in addition to their own, to support those who could not afford to go.
It all came together and it was clear that God’s mighty hand was blessing this ministry.
In April, Eduardo and his son brought 12 men to The Cove to spend time with God. The message they wanted to impart to the men was: To be men after God’s own heart and to focus on establishing their identities in Christ. Acts 13:22 Eduardo acted as their guide and interpreter. The men spent lots of time (all day) in the woods, they studied God’s Word and shared life stories, they prayed and worshiped in the Chapel and enjoyed a time of fellowship with one another unlike any other they had ever experienced.
God worked mightily in the lives of these men as they set aside time to be with Him.
Eduardo says he will bring more men in the future.
Eduardo’s prayer is that God will provide the proper tools and support to spread the word about this opportunity for Hispanic men. He says that there are English speaking churches all over the country that have small Hispanic subset congregations. His hope is that these English speaking pastors will learn about this opportunity and share with Hispanic pastors and their congregations, who may be going through a difficult time as it was in his case.
Eduardo is sure that God will restore their hearts and will give them a fresh vision to continue to do God’s will in their lives. Psalm 37:23
If you would like more information on future Hispanic retreats like this, you may contact them directly here:
Click here to visit The Cove website.
Planes, trains and automobiles….and now, bicycles.
People come to The Cove from all over the world. Most of them arrive in some fashion powered by an engine.
This week, we greeted a guest as he pedaled up on his bicycle!
He rode from Greenville, SC to Asheville, in which most of the ride was uphill. The good news is that the ride home should be a breeze!
Several years ago, we had a visitor ride all the way from California. Now that’s a commitment!
Do you ride? What is the longest distance you have tackled?
We would love to have you come for a visit. Click here to visit our website.
Remember in your yearbook superlative section, where it listed the most likely to be President, cutest couple, class clown, etc.?
Do you ever feel like you could have been titled the most unlikely to be used by God?
This week Ann Barrows, wife of longtime friend and ministry partner of Billy Graham, Cliff Barrows, spoke to a group of Senior Adults during the 3-day Senior Celebration. In a workshop entitled “When Life Loses Its Color,” Ann examined how God uses the humbling experience of getting older to prepare us for Kingdom living.
She assured the group, “As long as there is life and breath in you, there is something God has for you!”
Ann shared the truths that God has taught her through the “colorless days” and calamities of her life.
Prior to marrying Cliff, Ann was married to her first husband, James Prince, who died of cancer after 34 years of marriage.
“Life lost its color when he died,” Ann says.
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, until these calamities have passed by. Psalm 57:1
She recounted the day James told her, 4-weeks before he died, that he prayed God would bring someone very special into her life. Hearing this broke her heart. She couldn’t imagine losing her husband, much less marrying someone else.
Today, Ann gives thanks for this gift her dying husband gave her that day.
Just months prior to losing her husband, Ann was introduced to Billie Barrows, Cliff Barrows’ then wife, by a mutual friend. Ann was able to minister to Billie in a special way through her bout with cancer. On their first phone conversation, Ann asked Billie is she could pray for her right there on the spot. Thus a beautiful friendship began. “God knit our hearts together,” Ann said. “We had cancer in common. We became great friends.”
Their friendship, initially only over the phone, grew. They first met face to face at Ann’s husband’s funeral. Billie lost her fight to cancer 1 year and 4 months later.
After Billie’s death, Cliff told Ann, “Someday we need to sit down and have a long talk.”
Ann smiles as she remembers receiving a call at 2 a.m. one morning, some time later. Cliff was on the other end of the line, calling while ministering at a Crusade in Puerto Rico. He asked Ann for permission to see her.
The day Cliff visited Ann’s home, they stood in the hallway for 45 minutes just looking at one another. “There were tears. Lots of tears,” Ann remembers.
Cliff told Ann that he felt the Lord did not want him to be alone any longer. He felt the Lord wanted them to be together.
The next day, Cliff asked Ann to marry him. God had confirmed in both their hearts that this was of His doing.
“You might wonder how I could marry someone I barely knew. I learned more about Cliff through my friend Billie than most people know about the mate they chose to marry in an ordinary circumstance.”
“Billie had told me of Cliff’s servant’s heart, his unconditional love and commitment to her.” Ann knew he was a good and godly man.
Ann and Cliff have been married 19 years in June, blessed with a large family with 53 members. “We have been through just about everything in our family. There are no exemptions just because my husband is Cliff Barrows.”
God had a plan much greater than either Cliff or Ann Barrows could have imagined.
Ann reminds us of the calamities that Naomi from the Book of Ruth went through. Famine forced Naomi and her family to leave their home in Bethlehem, the “City of Bread,” only to enter Moab, the “City of Incest,” where her husband and both their sons died.
It became a “colorless day” for Naomi.
“When you become a widow, it is easy to feel like life is over,” Ann shared.
When Naomi returned to Bethlehem with Ruth, one of her Moabite daughter-in-laws, would either of these women have felt like there was much left for them?
God’s plan for both Naomi and Ruth was much greater than either could have imagined.
Ruth married Boaz, the son of Rahab the harlot.
Don’t you imagine these two would have been voted least likely to be part of a Royal lineage?
Yet in the New Testament account of Christ’s birth, Matthew tell us that our Savior Jesus Christ comes from the line of Boaz and Ruth.
God had a plan much greater than either Boaz or Ruth could have imagined. He was not done with them yet!
And had it not been for Naomi, Ruth and Boaz would not have met.
God’s plan for Naomi was much greater than she could have imagined. He was not done with her yet!
God in His sovereignty is at a work in your life in a mighty way right now. He has a work for each of us to do.
“Does God have remarriage for every woman? No,” she explained, while Naomi was to remain single, Ruth was to remarry. Naomi was no less blessed of God because she did not remarry.
Each of us is precious is His sight.
Ann directed us to Habakkuk 1:5 for another example of God’s awesome works and sovereignty.
“Look at the nations and watch—and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.
If we watch, God will amaze us time and time again.
Ann noted, that during trials we often ask the Lord why or for how long, our suffering will continue.
She encouraged us to keep our focus fixed on God at all times, reminding us that when we focus on our circumstances, we tend to fall apart.
Staying focused of God can be hard to do when the circumstances are controlling our feelings, Ann acknowledged, but our feelings don’t always tell us the truth.
Her advice? Run to the strong tower in your day of calamity, and God will give you the “peace that surpasses all understanding” and grace that endures.
Habbakkuk’s response to the calamity of his time was to rejoice in the God of his salvation and to give thanks in all things.
Have you learned how to embrace your calamities?
Ann encourages us to grow and be strong and share with other people the reason for our hope and how God has brought us through many things.
God’s plans for us are much greater than we could ever imagine, and He often uses the “least likelys” to carry out His plans.
If life has lost its color for you, take heart—God is not finished with you yet!______________________________
Would you like to attend a Senior Celebration with Cliff Barrows? Click here for information and to register.
Cove Sous Chef, Hallie Saunders has a passion for sharing the healing properties of various foods, mainly whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Hallie is a cancer survivor and knows a thing or two about healing your body with the very food that we put in our bodies.
When asked why she loves juicing so much, she tells us, “Juice is one of the most powerful whole foods that you can put in your body. It takes very little energy to digest, so you maintain almost all of the energy and nutrients that it gives.”
Hallie offers these four important facts about juicing:
Watch here as Hallie shows you how to prepare two delicious juice recipes, Carrot Apple Ginger Juice and Pink Lemonade juice. Both with ZERO sugar and just three ingredients each.
Carrot Apple Ginger Juice
5 medium carrots
1/4 inch piece of ginger
Feed all ingredients through juicer and enjoy!
4 to 5 small apples
1/4 of lemon with rind on
1/4 inch piece of beet
Feed all ingredients through juicer and enjoy!
Don’t have a juicer? Most any juicer will work, but Hallie recommends the Champion Juicer.
We want to hear what you thought of these juices. Which was your favorite?
Please share in the comments section below.
We would love to see you in person! Visit www.TheCove.org to see what’s going on at The Cove.
Not only is the food delicious, but the recipes, 99% made from scratch, are healthy.
Watch here as Executive Chef Douglas Walls and Sous Chef Hallie Saunders share a delightful and healthy Apple Delight Wrap recipe and whipped parsnip side dish.
Apple Delight Wrap
(Serving Size: 1 Wrap)
1/4 – 1/2 cup chopped kale
1/4 cup chopped carrots
1/4 cup chopped broccoli
1/4 cup chopped purple cabbage
2 Tbsp. of mixed nuts (sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds or other nuts of your choice)
1/4 cup of cooked quinoa
1/4 cup chopped apples
1/4 cup Hummus
Drizzle of Apple Cider Vinaigrette (Combine 1 Tbsp. of Apple Cider, 2 Tbsp. of Olive Oil, 1 Tbsp. of Soy sauce, 1 Tbsp. Honey)
Chop vegetables by hand or in a food processor.
Mix all ingredients in a bowl and place in a tortilla wrap of your choice, roll and slice in half and enjoy.
(Serving Size: 1)
2 parsnips (peeled & roughed chopped, boil down until they are soft)
2 Tbsp. of unsalted butter
1/4 cup of Heavy cream
Salt & pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients and serve with the apple delight wrap.
Garnish with chopped scallions.
Plan a trip to The Cove! See what’s happening here.
God’s Spirit moves mightily.
The idea came to them last year when Lydia (age 10), Hope (age 11) and Emma (age 11) who live in Marion, NC were packing a few Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes, as they had done for many years.
The girls decided that for Christmas 2013, they wanted to pack 100 boxes.
100 boxes! No small feat by any measure.
So the planning began.
They began raising funds for the contents of the boxes early in March.
How did they raise the money? The old-fashioned way, of course…
Yard sales, lemonade stands, showing an outdoor movie on a sheet, making Duct Tape wallets and bows to sell, and going door to door asking for donations.
And then the fun part…time to shop!
Each box contained a stuffed animal, notebook, coloring book, pencils, jump rope, bandana, washcloth, comb, toothbrush, toothpaste, tissues and other fun items they thought the children receiving would enjoy.
On November 22nd, they loaded up the truck and headed to The Cove, one of Operation Christmas Child’s National Collection locations, to drop off their boxes. Hope and Lydia had dropped off their boxes at The Cove last year and said that the experience was wonderful, so they decided to go back this year.
Harold was the volunteer at The Cove the day the girls came by. Harold has witnessed a lot in his days, but seeing these girls with such beautiful hearts for the Lord brought him to tears. Before the girls left, he asked if he could pray over the boxes. He not only prayed for the children who would receive the boxes, but he thanked God for the children who made it all happen.
You may be wondering if the girls have a plan for next year. Yes, they do! They plan to pack another 100 boxes and raise enough money this time to cover the shipping fees for the boxes as well.
Watch here as the girls tell what they enjoyed most about packing the boxes.
It’s not too early to start thinking about packing your boxes for next year. Visit the Operation Christmas Child website here for more information.