Franklin Graham, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse, was the featured speaker at the 2013 Metro Maryland Youth for Christ (YFC) banquet. Speaking to a record 1,640 guests Graham mentioned how close he was to the organization and how its roots were traced back to the 1940’s with his father, evangelist Billy Graham, the first full time staff member.
Prior to Graham taking the stage, the organizers of the evening fund-raising banquet provided some background on the vision and mission of the YFC. Three high school students provided moving testimony of how YFC and outreach programs help them to overcome a myriad of problems facing today’s youth. Youth for Christ has programs for young people in middle through high school with a focus on building healthy relationships, and creative programs to help young people make good choices. The goals are to have them establish a solid foundation for life and to have a positive impact for their schools.
When Graham followed the testimonials, he relayed a bit about his early life, and that contrary to what some think, he wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth. “It was only natural for you to believe, raised in a home where Christ was preached,” Graham stated. He continued that, “Yes, there was prayer in the home every morning and evening; there were bible games and attendance at church.” However as a teenage he admitted that Jesus Christ wasn’t the most important thing in his life. “The last thing I wanted to do was surrender my life to Jesus Christ,” he said, adding that he didn’t want to be put into a “spiritual straightjacket”. He “wanted to be free, to have fun and to be lord of his life”.
What he got was what a lot of young people today get when they try to be lord of their lives; “a big black hole that you think can be filled with fun and games,” he said. His story resonated with the audience and with the young people who spoke earlier of being lost, bullied, and fatherless. Like Graham, they were sinking into a dark place. “You can have fun for a time, a season” Graham continued, but soon you get sick and tired of being sick and tired.
When Graham was 22 years old he got on his knees and according to him, prayed for forgiveness even though he didn’t understand everything. He did know that Jesus died for him and paid for his sins on the cross. That night changed his life. He decided to go back and finish college and as an aside stated, “While his father and mother were paying for it.”
Graham went on to finish college and was soon working for an organization called Samaritan’s Purse under its founder, evangelist Robert Pierce. Samaritan’s Purse, a non-denominational evangelical Christian humanitarian organization, is best known for its annual Christmas Child program. The Christmas Child program delivered over 8 million shoe boxes containing gifts and Christian literature to children around the world.
Graham never wanted to be a gospel preacher and be compared to his father. After all he said, “Why put yourself through that situation, just don’t do it,” He did, however, want to serve the Lord, and by leading Samaritan’s Purse he has reached millions. He told how he did begin to preach and prayed that if God wanted him to preach he would give ten percent of his time to evangelical preaching. He continues to preach the gospel today, even after adding the responsibilities of CEO for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, saying, “I preach the gospel that Jesus Christ is the son of God, that he took our sins to the cross, died, was buried and on the third day God raised him to life.”
In closing Graham encouraged the audience to support the local YFC organization, to pray for its success, and to contribute to its programs to reach another generation right here in our community.
Youth for Christ lives up to its mission of reaching young people everywhere, working together with local churches and other like minded partners to raise up lifelong followers of Jesus who lead by their godliness in lifestyle, devotion to the Word of God and prayer.
You can be a part of the ministries and mission of YFC. To donate please make your check payable to Metro-Maryland Youth for Christ and mail to MMYFC, 890 Belair Road, Baltimore, MD 21236 or contribute on line at www.mmyfc.org.