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23 February 2018

How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news

Kieran Turner is public policy officer at the Evangelical Alliance Scotland.

We've now had a few days to reflect on the passing of Billy Graham and the incredible impact of his ministry. It's been remarkable to see some of the mainstream media coverage of this story and the tributes being paid by politicians, royalty and celebrity. 

But what's also been remarkable has been the conversations in staff rooms, offices and hospital corridors of the personal stories of the impact in individual lives. I was even in a taxi this morning where the driver was talking about him and the simplicity of his gospel message before going on to talk about the football last night and the tragedies in Syria. 

I am one of those personal stories. I am one of the 215 million spoken to by Dr Graham and one of the millions affected by his humble obedience to the call of God on his life. And I'm one of those, like thousands of others, where, at a Billy Graham event in 1991 at Celtic Park in Glasgow, I made my first commitment to become a disciple of Jesus Christ.  

As we've reflected this week there is so much that stands out. The statistics themselves are just part of that picture. Whether it was the Harringay rallies of 1954, organised by the Evangelical Alliance, which saw two million people attend over a 12-week period, or that last tour in Scotland where more than 250,000 attended rallies in Edinburgh, Aberdeen or Glasgow, it would be hard to think of anyone today who could bring so many people together in UK, whether a celebrity, band or stand-up comic, let alone an evangelist.

And, of course, there was his public leadership role, befriending both sides of the political divide to offer prayer and counsel, working with Martin Luther King in the civil rights movement and even going to North Korea. All the while living a life of humility and robust integrity in his financial and relational affairs – literally modelling his faith in action.

Perhaps that's why as an Alliance we feel so connected to the ministry of Billy Graham. Steve Clifford, general director of the Alliance, said this week: "Beside a lake, in large auditoriums and through broadcasts, or watching him on TV – one could not help but be impacted by his passion for God, his commitment to the truth of the gospel and his life of integrity." Even aside from organising those Harringay rallies his life speaks of so much of what we are about as an Alliance - working together to share the good news of Jesus and encouraging public leadership across all areas of our society. 

As I went past Celtic Park today I couldn't help but think back with gratitude to the faithfulness of the farmer's son from North Carolina. I meet so many people who were there that night and in many ways the impact of this inspired a generation of Christians – as was the case in so many cities around the world. The simple message of repentance, forgiveness and hope in the gospel that changes lives. 

But looking back now those rallies do seem like a lifetime ago. Looking at the pictures and clips of full stadiums it's hard to imagine that now – especially in Scotland. So it also poses a question and a challenge for us who have been impacted through the ministry of Billy Graham: who will tell this generation of the wonderful good news of Jesus? If I don't tell my neighbours in the shadow of Celtic Park, how will they hear it as I did 27 years ago?

As we reflect this week may the legacy of Billy Graham be a Church that is passionate about sharing the good news of Jesus. May we each be obedient to the call to share our faith wherever God has placed us. May our hearts be set on fire for those in our neighbourhoods, towns and cities who have never heard. And may we play our part, as Billy Graham played his, in this wonderful great commission we have been given, to tell our generation of the glorious gospel that utterly transforms lives.

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" Romans 10:14&15

How beautiful indeed are the feet that bring good news.

You can find out more about the Alliance and Billy Graham here: eauk.org/BillyGraham