Picture Sparks Treasured Memories for Billy Graham Library Visitors
Strolling through the Billy Graham Library, Katy Williams stopped to stare at a large black and white picture.
Stepping closer, she and her husband, Banks, scoured the faces. He spotted his bride standing among dozens of others at a 1958 Billy Graham Crusade in Charlotte, North Carolina.
At the time, Katy worked after school at a Charlotte grocery store. She and a co-worker made plans to go hear this popular young preacher.
She never forgot what came next.
“I just remember listening to Billy and how it moved my heart,” she recalled. At the end, he gave an invitation to receive Christ.
“I went down [front] when they played ‘Just As I Am’ and I was just shaking all inside. It was a big decision for me. … I was trembling.”
Katy had been to church before with friends, but this night was different.
“This was the first time anyone had ever asked me, ‘[Do you] want to be saved?’”
She said yes, and prayed to surrender her life to Christ.
“I’ve thought about that a lot,” Katy said. “If I hadn’t of, things would maybe have been real different.”
She started attending church regularly, saying it made a “big difference” in her life.
God stirred Banks’ heart, too, through Billy Graham’s preaching.
They sat down on a bench just below the picture and he shared his Billy Graham story.
Banks was 9 years old in 1943 when his boys club went to Montreat, North Carolina, for a retreat. Their chaperones were students from Davidson College (in North Carolina) who were studying to be pastors.
“Billy had a service there at Montreat,” Banks recalled. “After the service, most of the guys in the club went down [front] and were all saved.”
“I just remember his message, the same then as it is now,” he recalled. “It made me feel like I was saved and I felt the Spirit, and I’ve been that way ever since.”
“I got saved at Montreat by Billy Graham,” Banks said proudly. “I have a lot of good memories about that weekend that we went up there.”
A lot of the boys, including him, were baptized in the lake. Some, he said, turned out to be preachers.
After reminiscing for a while, reality set in and it was time to go. The couple had a doctor’s appointment at the VA Medical Center just around the corner.
Banks, who served in the Air Force and as a firefighter for 30 years, has been fighting esophageal cancer since September.
When he got the news he was sick, Banks told his doctors: “I’m not worried about it. I’m positive that I’ve got Somebody to take care of me,” he said. “It’s a win-win situation with me either way.”
Banks recently got some good news—he’s cancer-free.
With grateful hearts, they had paid their respects to Billy Graham, the former farm boy who had led them both to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Banks and Katy got up to leave and walked outside.
Thankful for her decision that changed the course of her and her family’s lives, Katy said, “I’ll never forget it.
“So thankful for hearing his message and [for] the man he was.”