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Billy Graham, as always

National | At age 84 and in frail health, evangelist Billy Graham still packs them in.

Issue: "Memorial Day 2003," May 24, 2003

At age 84 and in frail health, evangelist Billy Graham still packs them in. His four-day preaching mission this month in San Diego broke attendance records at the 67,000-seat stadium where the Chargers and Padres play (74,000 crowded in for the Saturday youth-night rally). Volunteer choir members, spiritual counselors, and other support came from 650 churches, with 66 denominations represented.

Clad in an overcoat to protect against the chilly night winds off the Pacific, Rev. Graham needed assistance getting to the podium, but once there he stood up straight, and preached in a strong, smooth voice. As always, he expounded the gospel in simplicity and with powerful persuasion.

"We've aimed for happiness but missed the mark of God's plan for us," he said. "But it's not too late." The evangelist appealed to his listeners who had not yet done so to turn to Christ. And, as always, many people-nearly 13,000 in all-left their seats at his invitation and flowed onto the field to be counseled and receive literature.

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At Rev. Graham's side were his two team members who had been with him since the 1940s: music director Cliff Barrows, 80, and baritone soloist George Beverly Shea, 94. Mr. Shea sang his signature song: "I'd Rather Have Jesus." As always.

Edward E. Plowman
Edward E. Plowman

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