Gra­ham preached to large crowd in Sul­phur Springs

Westside Eagle-Observer - - FRONT PAGE - RANDY MOLL

SUL­PHUR SPRINGS — Billy Gra­ham, the in­ter­na­tion­ally renowned evan­ge­list who died Feb. 21 at the age of 99, preached in Sul­phur Springs in Septem­ber of 1959 when he at­tended a board of di­rec­tors’ meet­ing for Wy­cliffe Bi­ble Trans­la­tors there. Ac­cord­ing to a Gravette News

Her­ald re­port from Sept. 17, 1959, Gra­ham asked prayer for Nikita Khrushchev, premier of the Soviet Union at the time, that “he might see God and ex­pe­ri­ence a change of heart” as a result of prayers.

At one point in his mes­sage, Gra­ham pointed up in the sky and said, “If we get to the moon, so what! We should also send along a planeload of as­pirin tablets to the man in the moon.” (The Sovi­ets had just crash­landed Luna 2 on the moon’s sur­face on Sept. 13, 1959, and at that point in time ap­peared to be ahead of the U.S. in the space race.)

Gra­ham told the peo­ple, “The great­est sin in the world today is the moral sin,” as he pointed his fin­ger to­ward the crowd of lis­ten­ers. He said it was time the churches “re­minded the peo­ple of the Sev­enth Com­mand­ment” (the com­mand­ment for­bid­ding adul­tery).

“‘God hates sin,’ the evan­ge­list, with eyes closed and arms raised be­fore his face, said. ‘We’re headed to­ward judg­ment as sure as I am stand­ing here,’” the News Her­ald re­counted.

Ac­cord­ing to the ac­count, Gra­ham preached for about 45 min­utes in the hot sun, us­ing no notes but hold­ing a small leather-bound book of Bi­ble med­i­ta­tions in his hand, as he called on peo­ple to re­pent and turn to Christ as Sav­ior.

Ac­cord­ing to the News Her­ald ar­ti­cle, about 5,000 peo­ple at­tended the ope­nair meet­ing in the city park and ap­prox­i­mately 140 peo­ple ded­i­cated their lives to Christ.

Gra­ham, just short of 41 at the time, com­mented that this was the first “Mon­day af­ter­noon ser­mon” he had ever de­liv­ered. He had spo­ken at meet­ings in Lit­tle Rock on Sun­day and preached at John Brown Univer­sity in Siloam Springs on Tues­day be­fore re­turn­ing to his head­quar­ters in Min­neapo­lis, Minn.

Gra­ham ex­plained, fol­low­ing his mes­sage, that Khrushchev was not the most wicked man in his­tory. That was King Manasseh of Ju­dah who later re­pented of his wicked­ness. “It is en­tirely pos­si­ble for God to reach Khrushchev,” Gra­ham said.

Dodie Evans con­trib­uted to this re­port by sup­ply­ing the news ar­ti­cle and pho­tos taken by Bill Bow­man of Gravette.


Billy Gra­ham speaks to a large crowd in Sul­phur Springs on Sept. 14, 1959. He was in Sul­phur Springs to at­tend a board of di­rec­tors meet­ing of the Wy­cliffe Bi­ble Trans­la­tors.

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