Propelling vision and mission through celebration, connection, education, and inspiration.

Weakened Billy Graham Opens Kansas City Crusade

Oct 8, 2004

Billy Graham’s message still clear despite his age & diminished voice

By Bob Baysinger

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–There wasn’t much power in Billy Graham’s voice at the opening night of the Heart of America Billy Graham Crusade in Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium, but that didn’t stop the 85-year-old Southern Baptist evangelist from preaching a powerful message.

Graham, weakened by age and a pelvic fracture sustained in a fall at his North Carolina home last May, delivered a short sermon from John 3 about starting life over again. Noticeably absent from the presentation was the strong, steady voice Graham has displayed over the years in preaching to 80 million people worldwide during his career.

Graham, with his silver hair attracting the light from the stage spotlights, began slumping 15-minutes into his message and finished the sermon seated. His son, Franklin, seated on the platform behind his father, helped him get seated when he began to slump. A specially built podium had been prepared that enabled him to preach while seated.

Referring to the physical ailments now buffeting his life, Graham observed, “I’ve never preached a sermon sitting down.”The crowed responded with applause.

Graham seemed to regain some strength after sitting down and continued his appeal for people to be saved. “Jesus died on the cross for you,” he said. “He shed his blood for you.”

The crusade opened Oct. 7 and is scheduled to conclude with a message by Graham at 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 10. The evangelist’s weakened state did not hamper the results of his message as hundreds of people streamed onto the rain-soaked football field to respond to Graham’s appeal to accept Christ as Lord and Savior. Trained counselors recorded 704 decisions.

“Some people are ready to give up on life,” Graham said near the end of his 20-minute message. “Two people have told me in the last two days they are ready to give up. Jesus makes it possible to have a new life.”

Heavy rains blanketed the Kansas City area throughout the day and continued to fall as Cliff Barrows, longtime Graham associate, led the opening hymn. Crusade officials announced the first night crowd at 7,750. The Kansas City crusade will be followed by a crusade in Los Angeles in November and in New York next June.