Billy Graham's Australian Crusades 1959
The Melbourne Crusade
It was an in-between time for my husband and me. We were on the brink of our own great Christian adventure. Andrew continued teaching at the School for the Deaf until the last moment. We had almost finished packing everything for ourselves and our two little girls, ready to travel to George Brown Missionary Training College in Sydney and were practically living out of our suitcases. We had taken all our winter things, books and other possessions we would not need in warmer climes to store in our holiday place in Kangaroo Ground. Our home was nearly ready to let to some friends, so it could keep paying off the mortgage. At the Christmas breakup my husband had relinquished his position as Superintendent of a Sunday School that had nearly doubled in size.
- The Choir: Our Church Choir, of which I was a member, had practised assiduously as we prepared for the Melbourne Billy Graham Crusade. The air was filled with expectation. In evening prayer-meetings we were praying that the Crusade would herald a great revival across the whole of Australia. My great-grandfather and his brothers, Cornish hard-rock miners, had been involved in a revival in the goldfield mines around Castlemaine and we knew what a wonderful change it could make in people's lives. Many people attended church in those days because it was the thing to do, but they had not made a personal commitment. It was wonderful being part of that great Choir and to hear so many people singing the hymns, and, of course, Cliff Barrows' beautiful voice. I still have my Billy Graham Crusade Songs (1959). There were seventy-four hymns in it; beginning with 'Blessed Assurance' and ended with 'To God be the Glory.'
- The Venue: We had never been in the West Melbourne Stadium before as that was usually a venue for boxing. It was huge but the people just kept pouring in. We were jostled apart and Andrew managed a wave as he left to take up his position. My friends and I went to join the Choir. We heard later that there were many more people than were expected and some had to stay out in the street and hear Billy Graham over a loud-speaker. It's a long time ago now, but I think that after this the meetings were held in the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Even in that big area, there were more people than seats in the stands and some people were allowed to come in and sit on the grass.
- The Preacher: From the Choir stand we had a good view of Billy Graham. He was a wonderful, charismatic preacher. HIs message was really quite simple, but his delivery was sensational and I think all the females fell a little bit in love with him. He was on the podium with other men, I mostly remember Rev. Leighton Ford and George Beverley Shea who wrote the music for 'I'd Rather Have Jesus'. Just below where Mr. Graham stood, I could see my dear Andrew. I was so proud of him as he interpreted Billy Graham's words for the deaf community and I just loved the way he signed so rhythmically for the hymns in time with the singing. They were great occasions and Mr. Graham really spoke to the heart of each individual person.
- The Commitment: At the end he made an appeal for people to dedicate their lives to Jesus. It was a great time of witness and an amazing number of people went down to the front from up in the stands. Several of us shared tears of joy it was so beautiful. One of my Christian friends was so happy as she watched her parents go down, hand in hand. They attended church, but were not really committed and often bickered. It heralded a big change in the whole of their family's lives, and there were many more like that, although the majority of those who went down were young - and we admired their courage in front of such a huge crowd.
The Sydney Crusade
I think the Crusade was still continuing in Melbourne when it was time for us to fly to Sydney. My parents drove us to the airport and several people came to bid us farewell. It was only the second time that Andrew had ever flown and the first time for our girls. Our adventure had begun. When we had left our luggage at the College, we visited the Post Office and sent telegrammes to our parents to let them know we had arrived. My parents were amazed when they arrived home to find that we were already in Sydney. Such was the speed of flight.
- Billy Graham in Sydney. I believe his message was just as successful in Sydney. While I stayed home with our little girls, Andrew and some of the other Trainees went to hear him one evening. Those who had come from other States had not heard him before and the next day at lectures and meals the whole topic of conversation seemed to be about the wonderful, life-changing impact that Billy Graham's preaching was having on so many lives.
The fiftieth anniversary of the first Billy Graham Crusade in Australia was celebrated in February, 2009, and at that time many people witnessed to the great influence that the Crusade had on their lives or the lives of family and friends.
The Bible and Christianity
- Bible Storytelling by The Backyard Bards at CMS Summer Under the Son
At the Church Missionary Society's Summer Conference we heard Bible storytelling by a group called The Backyard Bards. It was dramatic, passionate and mind-blowing. We heard Bible passages as we had never heard them before and will never forget.
- Forgiveness and Spiritual Health
The article defines, looks at and compares forgiveness in the Old Testament and the New Testament. When we do wrong we must ask for and accept God's forgiveness, forgive those who wrong us and forgive ourselves if we are to attain spiritual health.
- Communication in a Changing World
Distance communication began in prehistoric times and some of these methods have continued almost until present times. Communication developed slowly over the centuries, but more recently, perhaps beginning with the printing press and escalating.
- How Can We Keep Sundays Holy?
The Fourth Commandment tells us to take a day of rest, but we rarely seem to find time to do this. Rest is as important for our spiritual and physical well-being as rests are in music as they contribute to the harmony.
- Three or Four Leafed Clover
The word 'luck' has been around for a long time and we often use it. Many people have good luck charms or a four-leaf clover, but St. Patrick used a three-leaf shamrock to teach the Irish about the Trinity. Christians should rely on God, not on luck.
- How to Say Grace
We should know the difference between prayers before meals and saying grace. Grace before meals is a very old tradition and the article looks at the genre and some of its history, concluding that Christians should always thank God for our food.
- A Meditation on Psalm 32 - Taizé Style
A meditation for Lent that combines Psalm 32, prose and poetry. When we pray to be forgiven God cleanses us from sin and surrounds us with His love now and for all eternity.
© 2012 Bronwen Scott-Branagan