Several years ago, I was watching a TV discussion that landed on the ministry of Billy Graham. Two men talked about what would happen when Mr. Graham died. This became known as “The prophecy.” I respect those men who “sensed” in the Spirit a wide-spread calling forth a new group of empowered evangelists for the new day. The heavy underlining was that something would break open that Billy Graham’s death would ignite. Others I respect have said the new group would be a generation. We heard Anne Graham Lotz speak prophetically of that at the funeral. It sounded to me like a ratification of the earlier seeing.
Ed Stetzer moved from Lifeway—an arm of Southern Baptist Convention—to Wheaton College. I followed his blogs and publications then and still do. Ed Stetzer holds the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College, is executive director of the Billy Graham Center, and publishes church leadership resources through Mission Group
I want to share a portion of Mr. Stetzer’s Exchange blog from Christianity Today that fits into the “prophecy.”
My colleagues at the Billy Graham Center, Paul Erickson and Bob Schuster, shared with me one example of a hero maker by the name of Elner Edman.
Elner was the brother of V. Raymond Edman, a past president of Wheaton College. Elner and Herman Fischer, who was on the Wheaton Board of Trustees at the time, were on vacation golfing in Florida. There, they met Graham, who was then a student at the Florida Bible Institute, a then-unaccredited Bible college (today, it is Trinity College in the Tampa Area).
They listened to Billy preach, but they also went golfing and Billy served as their caddy,
carrying their golf bags. They found themselves impressed with him and encouraged him to consider attending Wheaton College after finishing a degree at Florida Bible Institute. Graham had said that his mother had always wanted him to attend Wheaton, but that it was out of their financial reach.
So, having been impressed with him, both Edman and Fischer came back a couple days and Elner offered to pay the first year of his tuition at Wheaton. They both also agreed to work to get him a scholarship. Graham did end up attending Wheaton College, which became a key transition point to his global ministry.
When I shared this in front of the 6,000 attendees at the Exponential Conference, I did not tell people who Elner Edman was. I simply put his picture on the screen and explained that for the last year and a half, I’ve carried a responsibility of something called the Washington Project.
In the Washington Project, my job was that upon Billy Graham’s death, I was to cancel my plans, to call and set into motion certain events related to the funeral, and more. I have actually carried a card with me that I held up to the attendees at the Exponential Conference and explained that I would get this call and then I would call certain people.
So, I explained to those at Exponential that by putting a picture of Elner Edman up, I wanted to encourage all of us that there are all kinds of hero makers. In this case, Elner met his caddy, thought he had potential, encouraged him to go to Wheaton College, and helped pay his way to go to Wheaton College.
After explaining a bit about the card and the Washington Project, I explained that Elner Edman’s caddy died recently, and I put a picture of Billy Graham on the screen.
©Christianity Today, 2018
The vision that came from several (and sometimes differing) parts of the Body of Christ seems to be coming forth.
Another “investor” in Billy Graham was Christian Educator Henrietta Mears who invited him to her summer conference. It was there that Billy Graham worked through the credibility of the Bible and then the role it would have in his life and ministry. He developed a biblical worldview.
Two major Christian research groups studied Generation Z or iGens, which follows The Millennials. Their research says that 4% of iGens (including Christians) have a biblical worldview. This percentage has been eroding beginning with Boomers. A Biblical worldview is almost impossible as long as a person is Biblically illiterate. I take this one step further by quoting:
“The Bible is, for better or worse, the foundational document of Western Civilization (of Western values, Western morality, and Western conceptions of good and evil.)” (©2018 Dr. Jordan B. Peterson, 12 Rules for Life, Random House Canada.)
My lengthy blog “After thoughts & Prayers” (https://bentonquesthouse.com/) outlines how I see a possible way the vision above—calling forth heroes and building a generation of leaders—could work. With the dismissal of God and the Bible from our culture, the younger generations have no basis for thought about or words to conceptualize America’s faith systems, our form of government or a solid understanding of the virtues. Or a capacity to understand or internalize The Constitution, let alone live as a Follower of Jesus.
To whom will you become a hero? How?
Thanks for thinking about this.
©2018 D. Dean Benton