Graham preached to large crowd in Sulphur Springs
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.