Evangelist Dr Billy Graham died on the 21st of February 2018 at the age of 99. Dr. Tony Stone worked with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and we are recalling what it was like to be part of that work.
Paul: Tony when did you join?
Tony: I think I first worked with the Billy Graham association in 1957 when I was 20 years of age.
Paul: What did you do for the organisation?
Tony: At the beginning I would share in meetings and prepare for the crusade by going from place to place, stirring up youth to get involved with the crusade. But as time went by I took on more responsibilities and became responsible for the counsellors on the field when Billy Graham gave the invitation.
Paul: So were you going to different churches bringing all the churches together, going months, maybe even years, in advance to the crusade actually happening?
Tony: Oh certainly it was many months before because we had to train hundreds and hundreds of counsellors. We would go around the area, for example, if it was the London crusade then we drew counsellors from the greater London area. Similarly, if we were in Manchester then we would go around the Manchester churches. So yes, it was a big area around the crusade venue.
Paul: Was it local churches that had a desire to put on an evangelistic crusade who would approach Dr. Billy Graham?
Tony: Oh every time. Billy Graham only ever came by invitation and so it would be the churches together representing all the churches of the area that would issue the invitation.
Paul: So there had to be a lot of unity for him to come?
Tony: Absolutely. Of course the coming together added to the unity that was obvious in the crusades. People from all walks of life and from all kinds of denominations would come together to help organize and participate in the crusades.
Paul: What was it like for you working for the association?
Tony: Well, in 1957 I was 20 years of age and I had just begun. In that same year I was ordained as an evangelist and started a ministry in evangelism that has lasted for 61 years now. So it was a tremendous encouragement to me. I learned so much and I would say it was a learning curve in my life.
Paul: Was Dr. Billy Graham a sort of hero of yours before you actually got the chance to work with him?
Tony: Yes. When I was still a teenager Billy Graham had come over for the great London crusade which was at Harringay arena in London. My father held some responsibility on the organising committee and so eventually I think when I was about 15, maybe 16 years of age, I was taken with the rest of the family to a reception where I met Billy Graham. He certainly was a hero to me; it was unbelievable and he remained that as long as he lived. I thank God for that, to have someone to look up to and to admire.