Billy Graham, probably the world’s most well-known Christian evangelist, recently stopped in Ottawa. The mission was held June 25-28 at the Corel Centre.
Preparations started more than six months ago, and have brought together hundreds of Christians, laymen and leaders, from many Ottawa churches representing a broad spectrum of Christianity.
Graham was ordained a Southern Baptist minister in 1939, and began his evangelistic ministry while working for Youth for Christ in the 1940s. He rose to international prominence in a 1949 Los Angeles crusade that was so successful, the scheduled three weeks of meetings turned into eight.
His popularity is not the result of attempts to keep up-to-date with fads, or to change the Gospel to make it more palatable to an increasingly “post-Christian” audience in North America. In fact, Graham’s simple message has not changed since he first started preaching. “My one purpose in life,” he says, “is to help people find a personal relationship with God, which, I believe, comes through knowing Christ.”
Coinciding with the upcoming Ottawa crusade, Human Life International recently published a response from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association regarding the evangelist”s views on abortion and contraception.
To maintain a singular focus on preaching a simple message of salvation, Graham has rarely taken advantage of his prestige to speak out on politically controversial matters. This stance has extended to pro-life issues, although he publicly expressed his disappointment with U.S. President Bill Clinton for vetoing the ban on partial-birth abortion.
BGEA spokesman Joseph Speranzella told HLI that Graham opposes abortion. “Life is sacred, and we must seek to protect all human life: the unborn, the child, the adult, and the aged,” he said.
Speranzella pointed out that Graham has not just talked about abortion, but has taken practical steps to help overcome the problem. Graham “was instrumental in the founding of the ministry of Care Net, which is the largest evangelical network of crisis pregnancy centers,” Speranzella said. “Care Net seeks to provide the most accessible and effective abortion alternatives possible.” He said Graham’s position on contraception is consistent with the dominant view among Protestants today. “There seems to be nothing in Scripture to prevent the wise planning for children … Mr. Graham believes in family planning, but he also realizes that contraceptives have many problems and many pitfalls.”
“Christian couples should make the matter of the size of their family a definite prayer concern and rejoice in such promises as found in James 1:5, Psalm 84:11, and Psalm 37:4, trusting the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s will for them in this as well as in other problems that face the family.”