By Bill Webb
Expectations are high for the Heart of America Billy Graham visit that begins Thursday, Oct. 7, and continues through Sunday afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.
It has been nearly five years since Dr. Graham conducted an evangelistic meeting in downtown St. Louis, regularly filling another pro football stadium for several nights. The results were predictable with many people making spiritual decisions, large numbers of people from a cross section of area churches receiving valuable training and the good will that comes into a community when a Christian leader with the spirit of Billy Graham comes to town.
A similar experience awaits Kansas City. This is a delayed meeting. Dr. Graham was scheduled to come earlier in the year until a fall and an injury required him to take an extended period for rest, rehabilitation and healing. By all accounts, he is excited and energized as he anticipates yet another visit to the heart of the country. Christians of various denominational backgrounds are excited that he is coming.
A good deal of logistical preparation has been made, and a considerable spiritual preparation has been continuing for months. Many have been praying regularly that this event will be a spiritual watershed, not only for countless individuals but for a city and region as well.
Age and ongoing health challenges have deprived Dr. Graham of much of the physical vigor that has characterized his appearances. He is a little over a month away from his 86th birthday. But people will not be coming to witness an athletic exhibition. They will be looking for eternal answers for their lives, and Dr. Graham's spiritual vigor and wisdom will likely help most of the attendees.
Some have suggested that this may be their last time to see Dr. Graham, and that may be true - in this life. But the whole point of Billy Graham evangelistic meetings is that everyone can come along to the destination that awaits him years from now.
It is pretty likely that Dr. Graham will be asked about his political preferences or about the state of society. He is not one to duck answers to questions placed before him. But he is not one to become sidetracked from his purpose in visiting Kansas City this week. As a young preacher, he railed against Communism and other perceived threats, but he moved well beyond that. Some time later, he was strongly criticized for not speaking out against Soviet Communism when he visited Moscow. Instead, he preached that the gospel beckoned every person.
Pray for Dr. Graham this week, and pray for all who will participate in the events of the week. God can do great things.