It was Easter weekend in 1937 when Billy Graham accompanied his college dean Rev. John Minder on a trip to Palatka, Fla. Bostwick Baptist Church. Minder asked Billy Graham, much to the 18-year-old’s bewilderment. delivered sermon in front of the 40 or so parishioners.
“After the service was over with, one of the men at the church came up to Billy and told him, ‘Boy you better go back to school and get a lot more education because you’re not gonna make it,’”
Billy Graham did return to school, and, after wrestling with God, he eventually gave way to his calling to preach. His confidence grew with practice, even though his audience sometimes was nothing more than alligators, birds..
Cecil Underwood encouraged Billy Graham to get baptized in a Southern Baptist Church and performed the honors at nearby Silver Lake in 1938. A year later, Billy Graham was ordained by Underwood and a half dozen local Southern Baptist preachers. On Sunday morning, Cecil Underwood, a lay pastor himself, assigned the students to preach at churches county-wide.
Billy Graham was a household name with family memories attached..
“What inspired me the most was that Billy, when he preached a message, a 6-year-old child could understand exactly what he was talking about,” Tommy Underwood said. “Or a 90-year-old person. He preached the Gospel very, very simply, and he preached it out of the Bible.”
Billy Graham shared the Gospel with hundreds of thousands in stadiums. Twenty years later, he was setting up for a Crusade in Clearwater, Fla close to the church he first preached.