Evangelism

The Billy Graham Crusade (1959) A Personal Memoir

As we approach the 60th anniversary year of the momentous 1959 Billy Graham Crusade in Australia, Bishop Tony Nichols recalls how Graham touched the people around him, and what flowed out of this and later Crusades.

Bishop Tony Nichols ministers at St Lawrence’s Dalkeith, WA and beyond.

Next year marks the sixtieth anniversary of Billy Graham’s first visit to Australia in 1959 when he led ‘crusades’ across all capital cities over a four-month period. To commemorate the remarkable outpouring of God’s Spirit in which thousands decided to follow Christ, Franklin Graham, Billy’s son, will speak in each capital city in February 2019.

Billy Graham was invited to Australia by the Primate of the Anglican Church, Archbishop Howard Mowll who did not live to witness the extraordinary results. His initiative, however, launched an unprecedented ecumenical movement which saw thousands of Christians from different denominations meeting weekly for prayer for God’s blessing on Australia. Over 8,000 enrolled for counsellor training in Sydney alone. Those training sessions were a great blessing to me personally, not least because we had to learn off by heart over twenty passages of Scripture. Volunteers were also organised for support roles and each of the choirs had a thousand members. The organisation was superb.

Crusade statistics have frequently been rehearsed. Attendances totalled three million. Australia’s total population at the time was twelve million. Melbourne attendances totalled 719,000. The Sydney Crusade drew 980,000. In the other capitals, meetings were taken by associate evangelists with Graham speaking at the final meetings. In Perth, the attendance was 106,800. A broader radio audience heard his trademark, ‘The Bible says’. Landlines relayed hundreds of services to rural communities. Of those who heard Billy Graham, over 150,000 made ‘decisions for Christ’. Not a few subsequently became significant leaders, both in Australia and in overseas missions.

Some colourful stories made newspaper headlines: ‘Thug Gives Up Revolver’, ‘Burglar Hands over Tool Kit’. Businesses reported an epidemic of repayment of bad debts. Enrolments in Bible Colleges doubled over the next four years. Churches which supported the Crusade were undoubtedly revitalised.

Not all church leaders supported the Crusade. The Bishops of Newcastle, Canberra-Goulburn, and Rockhampton derided Billy Graham’s simplistic use of the Bible. But many of their flock heard the gospel for the first time in language they could understand and confessed faith in the Lord Jesus.
My home parish of St. Augustine’s Bulli did not support the Crusade. The rector was a good man, but he, and all members of the Parish Council, were members of the Masonic Lodge. So an older layman, Bill Lackenby, and I organised a bus for the four weeks of the Showground meetings in Sydney, 70 km away. I still do not know how we paid for it. Astonishingly, the parish received about 200 referrals, almost all non-church goers. The rector fell ill and a young curate from Moore College, Reg Barker, was recruited. He faithfully visited all who were referred. The parish experienced new life and to this day is a vibrant fellowship. Our elder son and his family moved to the district ten years ago and are keen members of ‘Bulli Anglican’, as it is now known.
God’s blessing was also evident among the students of the University of Sydney where about 700 made commitments to Christ during the Crusade. The Evangelical Union organised Bible study groups. I was charged with the task of forming two such groups in the Faculties of Vet. Science and Pharmacy. One afternoon, Billy Graham actually came and preached on the lawns of the University. Inevitably, pranksters did their best to disrupt his address. They rang triple zero to report that the Uni was on fire. We could hear the sirens of fire engines coming from all over the city. But Billy persevered with good humour.

Emotionalism was a predictable explanation for the impact of Billy Graham’s preaching. Certainly, to hear thousands of voices singing ‘Just as I am, without one plea’ and to see hundreds of enquirers coming down quietly from all over the stands was unforgettably moving. But the power was in the clear proclamation of the gospel. The most remarkable evidence of this for me occurred in the following year, 1960, when I was appointed to Temora High School in country NSW.

In Temora, I threw myself into the life of St. Paul’s, the local parish—youth club, Sunday School and parish council. I was unaware of a looming crisis. No church in Temora had supported the Billy Graham crusade. However, two laymen had organised a landline relay. The rector was vexed because a number of his congregation claimed to have come to Christ through Billy Graham’s ministry—and that via a crackling landline in a cold Shire hall. A year later he was still ridiculing their experience and sought to counter Graham’s ‘The Bible says’ with homilies that regularly questioned the reliability of Scripture.
As he could not be persuaded to respond more pastorally, I commenced a Bible Study with 27 people aged 17 to 79 years. We met every Friday night for almost two years in the home of the oldest member, Mrs Donaldson, until I left for CMS service in North Borneo. It was a wonderful fellowship, but it was grievous that we did not have the blessing of our parish priest. In fact, I was denounced from the pulpit before an astonished congregation and told to leave. I declined to do so and begged for an interview. He reluctantly agreed. I turned up with Bible and prayer book, but no meaningful discussion occurred. I was henceforth tolerated.

That was a traumatic experience for a 22 year old, and it was perhaps strange that it did not alienate me from the Anglican Church. Rather I saw so many of God’s people as sheep without a shepherd and had a growing sense of his call to the ministry of that Word that Billy Graham had faithfully proclaimed.

Strategic hospitality

Marsha Dale shares how she was challenged to 'Contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality.'
Marsha is an MDiv student and is in Ministry with her husband Marc at Resurrection Church, Lockridge, WA

I heard a great pod cast on Strategic Hospitality by John Piper on the Desiring God website. In it Piper reminds us that we have freely received the liberating power of God's hospitality, making us a new and radically different kind of people. He challenges us to freely give, reflect the glory of his grace as we extend it to others in hospitality.

I love Pipers analogy...the physical force of gravity pulls everything to the centre of the earth. In order to break free from earth-centred life, thousands and thousands of pounds of energy have to push the space shuttle away from the centre. There is also a psychological force of gravity that constantly pulls our thoughts and affections and physical actions inward toward the centre of ourselves, our homes, our friends, our lives. Therefore the most natural thing in the world is to neglect hospitality.

Making Disciples Every Day

Sonya de Lacey gives us a taste of the Bishop’s Training Event in the Diocese of Tasmania.

Sonya de Lacey is the Media and Communications Officer for the Anglican Diocese of Tasmania

The atmosphere had an expectant buzz as 400 plus Anglicans from across Tasmania gathered for the third annual Bishop’s Training Event. This year’s theme was Making Disciples Every Day. It was Saturday 22 September. Music filled the auditorium. Lanyards were handed out. Resource tables were plentiful, covering topics such as: Alpha, Bush Church Aid, Church Missionary Society, Diocesan Training and Youth/Kids ministry info, Safe Church Communities, University Fellowship of Christians and Worldview College—to name just a few. The aroma of freshly ground coffee filtered through the air. This was our biggest event ever with around 350 adults, and 70+ children in the children’s event and creche.

At morning prayer we gave thanks to God that we, his people, could gather together in his name. We asked the Holy Spirit to fill us and empower us to be Christ’s disciples, sending us to go and proclaim the gospel, making disciples in our own neighbourhoods and to the ends of the earth. In the morning session Bishop Richard challenged us to ask the Lord of the harvest prayerfully and regularly for workers to send out into the harvest field.1 He concluded his session by sharing a video of Patricia McCormack who goes into Risdon Prison to share the good news. This lovely story showed how God can take our brokenness and create something truly beautiful.2

The Rev’d Andy Goodacre shared how Jesus chose unlikely people, in unlikely places, and invested in the few for the sake of the many.3 He shared an encouraging video from his church called: Barney’s Missionary People, Seeing Lives Transformed.4

We heard testimonies of God growing the church in Circular Head from about 15 to 20 people 18 months ago to over 90 people the Sunday before the Bishop’s Training Event. Others talked about how the Holy Spirit had been preparing them for a move and how they had sold up and were now moving house to join a new church plant in Brighton. There was much to give thanks for and celebrate.

The singing was both powerful and beautiful. One attendee wrote, ‘the very best thing about the day for me was the singing … Standing there, surrounded by the swell of sound from four hundred people all singing together, was the most uplifting, encouraging feeling. I was carried on the sound. I was buoyed by it … Saturday’s singing was about being community. Being family. Singing with one voice. Joining together and making something truly beautiful.’5
In the afternoon, everyone met in smaller groups attending 2 of 22 possible workshops. Workshops covered a wide range of ministry topics: for example, disciple-making in rural areas; connecting the church with young people; helping build disability-inclusive Christian communities; answering tricky questions in the workplace; everyday pastoral care; making disciples every day and missional communities; making disciples in the everyday.

‘There is always more we can learn to help us to serve God and with the wide range of session topics to choose from there was something for everyone’, said Philip Ruston. ‘It was good to learn more about personal witness and that even if we’ve had a Christian upbringing we still have a story to tell about our walk and relationship with God.’

Steve Abbott, author of Everyday Evangelism, led the two main auditorium workshops on sharing our faith with others. He talked about the ‘key practical biblical elements of personal witness’6 and ‘Understanding the five thresholds unbelievers cross from distrust to trust in Jesus’.7 We learnt valuable new skills and ideas to make disciples across Tasmania.

Our vision is to be: a church for Tasmania, making disciples of Jesus. Hopefully we have all taken away something new which will enable us to be a blessing within our communities and to share the good news. ‘I would certainly recommend the day, it allows you to see the depth and breadth of our Anglican Church community, making new friendships, renewing old ones and getting a broader view of what is happening across Tasmania,’ said Heather Krause. ‘It gives a better perspective regarding our faith community, rather than your head being down and just working on where you are. It is so important to raise your head and see what is happening outside of your circle, it gives you encouragement and new ideas and resources’, she said.
We left, thankful for what God is doing amongst us, with new skills and ideas to make disciples across Tasmania, and keen to invite others to join us next year.


Footnotes

Ministries to New Arrivals

Katrina and Jonathan Holgate share how they have seen ministry grow up among refugees in Perth, WA. Katrina and Jonathan were formerly at St Alban’s, Highgate, and are now at St Matthew’s, Guildford.

Imagine: You can’t quite hear, you don’t know the geography of where you are living, the rules are all different and seem to be harsh. Living here in Australia, we live with much tacit knowledge. We know how the school system works, how public transport works, where (generally) places are within your city or region. Refugees (and often backpackers) don’t have this tacit knowledge that we all live with not realising what seems obvious.
Jesus taught us the parable of the good Samaritan; Deuteronomy 29:11 says that we can only have a relationship with God if we treat the alien in our camp well; Leviticus 24:22 says we must have the same laws for the alien as we have for ourselves. It seems to us that we are living outside of God’s ordinances when it comes to the way we treat asylum seekers and refugees here in Australia.

In this context, we have been ministering to refugees for several years. God gave us plenty of opportunity to welcome the alien whilst we were at the Parish of St Alban’s Highgate. During ‘mission week’ one of the younger members of the congregation suggested an outreach to some of our local backpackers. We soon discovered the local backpacker hostels were largely populated with refugees. Their most desperate need was to learn and practice English, to develop an understanding of Australian culture and, believe it or not, our colloquialisms.

The Word of God at work: lessons in evangelism

David Ould went from nervous misgivings to astonished joy when a seemingly unlikely scriptural text brought an old man to new birth. David is Senior Associate Minister at St John's Anglican Cathedral, Parramatta, NSW

'And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.’  1 Thess 2:13

In May 2013 I took up a new ministry position. I went from one of the most affluent suburbs of my city to a place whose name was synonymous with crime and unrest; we switched from an area of tertiary-educated white-collar professionals to equally hard-working tradies. I soon learned it was a place where no-one else used words like ‘synonymous’.

After a while I set my mind to giving evangelism some structure. I grew up on Christianity Explored, leading tables in the enormous basement hall of All Souls’ Langham Place in London where the course itself was developed. It was very clear to me early on that one white upper-middle class man introducing DVDs featuring another white upper-middle class man was probably not the best way forward.

So I looked around at a variety of different options and finally settled on a different course out of England; the Good Book Company’s Jesus and You. The course has lots going for it—it’s only four weeks and so in a low-commitment culture the ask is minimal. Even better, each week can stand alone as a gospel presentation so there’s not the same gap in understanding that can happen in other structures. The presenters come from a similar blue-collar background; a nice contrast to the posh Englishman pressing play on the DVD. Finally, there was more than one rotation of the course—Tales of the Unexpected, Close Encounters and The King and I—so people who were still interested could come back for another round of new material to engage with.

We ran the course over four weeks, morning and evening. There were still some aspects I was uncomfortable with, most particularly the choice of texts. The local stockist only had Close Encounters on hand when we began but when I looked over the material I had my doubts. Week 1 was great—Luke’s account of the paralytic lowered through the roof. I could work with that! But week 2 I wasn’t so sure about—we were being asked to work our way through the complicated Parable of the Strong Man. It wasn’t even the simpler version recorded in Matthew and Mark but the full-blown Lukan retelling (Luke 11:14-26). The course booklet included a chart for participants to work through comparing the demon-possessed man, Jesus and Beelzebub with the various characters in the parable. It was a chart that I wish I’d had the first time I tried to work out this intriguing teaching of Jesus. It’s fair to say that I wasn’t confident going into that week. I thought the text was too complicated, I had no confidence that it would be understood and I wondered what on earth had possessed (no pun intended) the authors to include this Close Encounter when there were so many better options.

My quiet despondency was only increased when at 10am on Tuesday morning there was just one person there. Robert (not his real name) had been in church all his life. He sat in the same place every Sunday morning and was friendly without ever fully engaging in things. But he wanted to come along and here he was with his booklet and a quiet anticipation. I was the opposite. Frankly, because of my misgivings over that week’s text I was glad that only one person was there.

Over the next hour we read the Bible together. We saw Jesus cast out a demon and then declare that he was master over even the great Beelzebub, prince of demons. Then we turned the page to our chart and mapped out how Satan might be a strong man but that Jesus was far stronger. We discovered that it isn’t enough to have the house of our life cleaned out once; we need Jesus to stand permanent guard at the door.

And then, a few minutes after 11 o’clock in the morning, Robert had gentle tears running down his cheek. Well into his 70s, he quietly declared that he had spent his whole life unsuccessfully trying to keep his own house in order and it was time to ask the stronger man Jesus to do the job instead. He moved from darkness to light and I was both ecstatic and deeply ashamed in equal measure. It’s not the text that I would have chosen to declare the gospel but it was, in God’s good timing, exactly what Robert needed and so we prayed right there and then that he would stop trying to clean up his own life and let someone far better and greater do it for him.

And because God is so good (not least in humbling us) he did it again that evening. We had 6 people there and began with me asking what people had made of the previous week with the story of the paralytic lowered through the roof. As we worked our way around the small group there were various comments about how interesting it was, how they were surprised and so on. And then we got to the last person, a young lady whose life had already been complicated enough to prepare her to understand how good grace is when she stumbled across it. She looked up and gently said, ‘I went home last week and prayed the prayer’.

A few months later she and Robert and a number of others stood in front of a packed church building and publicly declared their faith as we held baptisms and confirmations. All because of the powerful word of God. And all despite my lack of confidence.

English Classes at Church

Kaye and Ian Malcolm

Kaye and Ian Malcolm write about starting free English classes in a local church, for the benefit of those who appreciate an English speaking context accessible to those whose first language is not English.

Essentials:: Tell us about how the idea of English as a Second/ Additional Language at Karrinyup came about.

Kay and Ian: Well, having spent periods abroad, we know what it’s like to be in a foreign-language speaking environment. After a period teaching in China, we had the opportunity of welcoming many Chinese students to our home when they came to Perth for further study, and we could see how much they appreciated getting into an accessible English-speaking context. As linguists, we could see how further training would help them.

Essentials: How did you go about getting it up and running?

Kay and Ian: We talked and prayed about it with interested friends within the congregation and brought a proposal to the Parish Council. The idea was that we would offer free English classes in the church facilities for one morning a week. The only charge would be $4 for morning tea. With the help of a core group of teachers we would offer classes at a range of levels, during school terms. Once the proposal was approved, we put publicity in local newspapers and on shopping centre notice boards.

Essentials: What helps and hindrances did you encounter?

Kay and Ian: We were not the only church offering this kind of service, so we benefited from being in contact with other groups. We also found useful resources online, and we took advantage of university libraries and language bookstores offloading stock to enable us to build up library resources. Once we got started, the regular attendance soon grew to the twenties, though we needed to cope with the fact that the same people didn’t necessarily come each week. One complication which arose was that some mothers wished to bring their babies or small children with them. We accommodated this as best we could, though decided not to extend our service to child minding.

As the work got known we had wonderful support from volunteers from the church who provided practical back- up. There were also offers from qualified people outside of the church. We needed to explain that, as this was intended as an extension of the church’s ministries, it was important for us to have a team who shared our Christian commitment. Some ESL/EAL ministries use the Bible as the main teaching resource. In our case, we initially invited people interested in exploring the Bible to stay on over lunch after the three-hour class for some overt Christian instruction. A new development is for individual teachers to spend an optional 15 minutes after the lesson concludes looking at the biblical implications of themes raised in the lesson or pursuing biblical storytelling.

Essentials: What are one or two encouraging stories?

Kay and Ian: We found it encouraging that some people who came to us on Friday took the opportunity to go to a class in one of our associated churches on another day of the week. Some also showed interest in meeting in a home on another day of the week for an “easy English” Bible study. At the Karrinyup church, when there were special events for Christmas and Easter, some of the students came along. We were impressed that one of our students was prepared to travel by public transport 90 minutes each way to come to our classes. One special production by the students was a collection of articles written by them under the title Write around the World, where they contributed descriptions of the places they had come from. One of the great outcomes of the English classes was the sense of community which developed. We would go on end of term picnics, and some of the students invited teachers to meals in their homes.

Essentials: What do you think the value of ESL/EAL ministry is? What opportunities does it present?

Kay and Ian: Our experience shows without a doubt that this service meets a need, both for language help and for social interaction on the part of the people who participate. It also draws out gifts and abilities on the part of church members and helps to make the church accessible to people who might not otherwise have contact with it. Above all, the value of this ministry is the opportunity it presents to share the gospel in life and word.

Essentials: What is the next step forward for the ministry that you hope to see it take?

Kay and Ian: Given the option to stay on after the lesson and consider biblical implications, nearly all the students are taking it. The enthusiasm to continue with this is strong. With interest in the Bible growing we are thinking and praying about how best to meet this welcome demand.