Mom and I had a recent, very fast up-and-back trip to Charlotte, NC to celebrate the life of a great man and the sweet Papa of one of my dearest friends. Having recently lost my sweet DatDat, I am reminded how very important it is to show up and serve those we love during their times of need, sadness, illness, or in seasons of great joy and elation as well.
All that to say, we had a great trip to Charlotte and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We love road trips, we love gabbing all the way up and down the road,stopping where we want to stop (most QuikTrips and Starbucks), and seeing new places. And Charlotte is home to a place we have always wanted to visit, but never have been before.
The Billy Graham Library.
Coincidentally, The BG Library and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association site has been on Mama’s bucket list for some time and we couldn’t pass the experience up. And, I am so glad that we didn’t miss this blessing.
The site itself is approximately 4 miles from the Graham Family Dairy Farm & home site, where “Billy Frank”, as he was called by his parents and siblings, grew up and spent his time before attending college and seminary.
The library itself is a barn complete with high beams carved with scripture references, buggies, carriages, and crates, but also a fabulous historical exhibit that allowed you quite literally to walk through over 6 decades of ministry.
The entrance to the library is 3-story-tall Cross cut-out and inlaid with clear, pristine glass. And as you enter, you enter this space “at the foot of the cross.” Later in the exhibit, Franklin mentions in a video that that entrance was incredibly intentional to encourage that to be a permanent condition of our hearts. That daily, we find ourselves at some point in our days, to be positioned at the foot of the cross.
As you walk through the exhibit and learn about his beginning, his salvation story, his marriage to Ruth, his children, the overlap of his ministry and worldwide politics, how the Crusades got their start, you watch videos, you see historical artifacts, you read, you experience.
And we loved every single moment of it.
This fireplace above is an exact replica of Billy & Ruth’s hearth in their home in Montreat, NC, and it is the place where world leaders and other famous introductions have occurred. The inscription over the fireplace is in German and reads “A Mighty Fortress is our God!’
I just love that daily reminder that served as a literal cornerstone in their family home, and lives.
Throughout the entire exhibit you learn all the intricacies of his ministry, how and where he hosted Crusades, how they managed to spread the Good News in countries few could reach, and even simple(r) details of their every day lives as a husband and wife and parents as well.
But more than anything, the Gospel is presented over and over.
More than anything, I was reminded of how God can use one person’s obedience to affect millions and generations of people. He used a simple farm boy from Charlotte, NC who believed Him wholeheartedly and said “yes” to His call.
And He can use as well in both small and big ways.
In our every day lives, in our relationships, in the choices we make, and the words we choose.
In the ways we raise our children and the examples we make for those around us.
Also on property, was Billy’s family home.
It was a charming home, decorated perfectly for the period complete with the wooden ironing board that pulled down from a wall closet in the kitchen. Billy’s bedroom was directly over the kitchen and he and his mother shared many wonderful conversations in that kitchen or in the sun room directly off.
In a display case in the dining room, you may spot this…
Peace with God was Billy Graham’s very first published book in September of 1959 and he gifted his parents this autographed copy that reads — “To Mother and Daddy, Who first taught me Peace with God.” and then personalized and signed with 2 Timothy 2:15. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”
I absolutely love that and it made my eyes bubble a bit when I spotted it.
What a tremendous legacy!
And then you can take a walk through the Prayer Garden, And along your way, you will pass Billy and Ruth’s graves.
I love that his is simply adorned with a Cross and the inscription of “Preacher of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.” And hers has a Chinese symbol atop her name for “Righteousness”; the same symbol that adorns her father’s headstone representing her upbringing in China as overseas missionaries.
One of my favorite Billy Graham quotes is “I am not going to Heaven because I have preached to great crowds or read the Bible several times. I’m going to Heaven just like the thief on the cross who said in that last moment, ‘Lord, remember me.'” It makes me think of another quote I love from my Pastor Tim Akin, which I will do my best to paraphrase. The difference between a believer and a non-believer? We are all beggars. We are just a beggar telling another beggar where we got the bread. That’s it. It really is that simple.
Childlike faith paired with obedience and a willingness to follow where He leads.
Billy Graham did all of that and so much more. He truly was a faithful servant of His Lord and Savior and is enjoying eternity at the foot of the Cross-bearer.
I highly recommend you journey to the Billy Graham Library. It’s an immersive, inspiring, challenging, emotional, and uplifting experience I will long treasure.
P.S.- I may be late to this party, but I have never read a Billy Graham book, but I am now! And so far, I love his voice and the simplicity of how he breaks down very complex pieces of Scripture (I am reading a book about Revelation and The End Times). Grateful for his example and his words long after he has gone home.