It was 5 April 1968. Forty years ago today. I had gone for the first time to the Methodist youth group in Inala. My parents thought I needed to get out more, and had got a lad to invite me. He was apologetic when he realised that the group was going to the Billy Graham rally in the Brisbane Exhibition grounds, and said he would have told me to come the next week if he’d known. Since we were there, though, we might as well go…
I was secretly glad. The Anglican priest at school RE had suggested to the class that we should read the Gospel of Luke. I started reading Luke in my Gideons KJV, but I was hopelessly bogged down in the archaic language. But I wanted to know more about God.
I did have one test for Billy Graham: Martin Luther King had just been shot dead, and I had been shaken. I wanted to hear something positive about him. I wasn’t disappointed.
As far as I know, it was the first time I’d ever heard the Gospel. I’d never heard of altar calls before, but I couldn’t stay in my seat. I didn’t understand how anyone could! I went out—I was drawn out—and gave my life to Jesus. The youth group leaders were cheesed off that I’d held everybody up by going forward.
When I got home, I told dad what I’d done. He told me not to write to send the studies in, they would just send ‘begging letters’. Weeks later, I did write, and dad accepted it without comment.
I didn’t stay in the Methodist group for long; the leaders never spoke to me about what I’d done, and I just didn’t feel it meant anything to them. Months later, I started going to my best mate’s church, which was Open Brethren.
And the KJV? I found that it suddenly made sense to me, funny language and all. It was totally different reading it after giving my life to Christ! I don’t use it these days, but making sense of it was a wonderful gift and a clear sign to me of the rightness and realness of what had happened to me.