A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold (Proverbs 22:1)
It was the introductory first sentence of the book of Proverbs that ascribed its contents to the influence of King Solomon who – in the earlier days of his famed wisdom – evidently came under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, in words that have fed the souls of believers across the centuries. There have been Christian leaders in our own time who have included the practical input of Proverbs as a ‘lifestyle’ working out of their daily reading of the Scriptures. Among them have been two international evangelists – George Verwer and Billy Graham.
When it came to Billy Graham – in the harnessing of the musical and MC abilities of Cliff Barrows throughout sixty and more years of evangelistic events in no less than 148 countries – it emerged that a man of giant character and integrity was augmenting a work that has not been exceeded in its effectiveness world-wide since the days of the New Testament apostles. And Integrity was to be the name of the game, in the handling of finances from the very beginning; in sexual ethics, public relations, the support of the churches, the shunning of sideline controversies and the follow-up care of those responding to the preaching of Christ. Truth was to lie at the heart of such ministry.
As for Cliff Barrows, he departed this life on November 15th, 2016 – at the age of 93. I had seen him in action first, when I had been a teenager. And Pam – who would one day become my wife – first saw him when she was but seven. But in coming days - as I entered into Christian ministry myself – I was to get to know, and even work a little with this giant of the faith. During our three-week Billy Graham ‘Mission 89’ in London – of which I was Chair, it was an honour to meet, pray and work with him as we discussed the forthcoming evening event. How he was loved across the world! Integrity and a selfless care for others were stamped upon his entire outlook and attitude.
“Morality,” wrote Augustine, “has perished through the want of good men” (De Civitate Dei, Book 2, chapter 21). That was sixteen centuries ago! What progress has the human race made since? None whatever – apart from the Gospel of God’s grace in Jesus Christ. A lesson from the life of Cliff Barrows is that Character is the only thing that you will take into the next life.