Northwest Welcomes Will Graham
By Bill MacLeod, Director, MissionConnexion
William Franklin Graham IV (Will) is the third generation of Grahams to proclaim the Gospel under the banner of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. The grandson of Billy Graham and the oldest son of Franklin Graham, Will has shared the hope of Jesus with more than one million people across six continents since beginning his evangelistic ministry in 2006. We are excited to welcome him as a plenary speaker to MissionConnexion Northwest this January 20-21, 2023, as we focus on “Here I am…what’s Next?”. He recently responded to four questions we posed related to that theme…
What were the circumstances that led you to make a commitment to follow Jesus Christ…when you initially said: “Here I am Lord!”??
I was nearly six years old and it was Communion Sunday at church. It’s safe to say that I wasn’t aware of the spiritual significance of communion (I was just excited to get the “snack”), but my dad stopped me as I reached for the bread. Later that day, my dad took me to my bedroom and began to explain the meaning behind the bread and the cup. He told me about Jesus, His death and resurrection. I knew of and loved Jesus, but I had never asked Jesus to save me from my sins. That day I prayed for forgiveness and asked Jesus to come into my life.
When it came to ministry, especially the work you are now in, what were the circumstances that led you to say, “Here I am…what’s next Lord?”
As far back as elementary school, I recall feeling called into ministry. All the other boys in class wanted to be NFL football players, but I wanted to fly around and tell people about Jesus. Years later, as a teenager, I attended Bible Camp, where I surrendered my life to ministry, telling God that I would follow His calling wherever He led me.
Finally, while serving as a pastor in Raleigh, N.C., the day came where God very clearly instructed me that it was time to serve at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. I loved pastoring the church, but when God says “Go!,” you go. That was more than 15 years ago. Since that time, I’ve had the privilege and blessing of sharing the Gospel around the world.
What challenges / opportunities are you seeing from your global ministry perspective for those who may be sensing God calling them into missions?
I like the way that question is worded, because it’s amazing how often challenges are opportunities, and opportunities are challenges. Technology would be one example. In many ways, technology has made it more difficult to reach people, as their attention spans are stretched thin. On the other hand, technology has opened incredible doors for us in sharing the Gospel.
Another challenge I see is the apathy in the church today, combined with an increase in biblical illiteracy. When COVID hit, people got used to not being in church on Sunday mornings. Instead of a great revival, we saw a great falling away. At the same time, a lack of biblical understanding – which leads to bad theology – has taken root. While these are troubling issues, they also represent an opportunity. The remnant is more motived to reach a lost and dying world, and more focused on digging into the Bible, knowing what it says and why we believe what we believe. All of this will make us more effective at reaching others with the true hope of Christ.
What would you like people attending MCNW 2023 to come away with, especially in light of the emphasis you will bring regarding our “Here I am…What’s Next?” Theme?
I would like attendees to be bold for the cross of Jesus Christ. We can’t be scared or intimidated. We need a generation of sold out, Bible-believing, Christ-following disciples who are willing to boldly cry out for the sake of the Kingdom. I pray attendees are ready to leave the conference and reach the world for Jesus.
I love Will’s passion for the Word of God, his perspective on technology, and his longing to see all of us sharing Jesus with others using words! I have appreciated his humble, down-to-earth demeanor, especially in one-on-one interactions. As he has said: “I’m not trying to be the next Billy Graham; I’m just Will Graham, and I have a burden in my heart to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” We all really look forward to giving Will Graham a warm welcome to the Northwest this January 20-21!