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NAMB documentary on Billy Graham begins airing Dec. 27 on ABC affiliates

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–“History is going to remember Billy Graham as perhaps the greatest evangelist this nation, perhaps the world, has seen. He’s ministered to so many people all around the world,” said former U.S. President George Bush in a new documentary about the life and influence of Billy Graham.
Produced by the North American Mission Board for ABC television, “Common Ground” is not a biography of Graham’s life, but rather a documentary about his influence. Most of the people interviewed on the program made a commitment to Christianity 10, 20 or even 50 years ago, but they give testimony about the impact Graham’s influence has had and continues to have on them and others.
In addition to Bush and his wife, the program includes testimonies from former U.S. President Gerald Ford, former Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services Kay Coles James, 1936 Olympic athlete Louis Zamperini and entertainers Kathie Lee Gifford, Jerome Hines and Jeannette Clift George. All five of Graham’s children and his wife are featured in the program, as is Raymond Damadian, inventor of Magnetic Resonance Imaging scanner (MRI), and Phillip Goudeaux, former member of the Black Panther Party.
“He [Graham] is the person who introduced me to Jesus Christ,” James said. “He is the person who gave the introduction, who extended the invitation, who offered the challenge that has completely changed my life.”
“I’m just one of millions that have been affected, but I am so glad that I am one that was affected through his ministry and his dedication and commitment,” Goudeaux said.
Another life touched by Graham and highlighted on the program is that of Joy Aran, a woman who suffered sexual abuse as a child and whose life was also changed at a Billy Graham crusade.
On the last night of a Boston crusade in 1964, Aran had decided she would ask Jesus Christ to be her Savior. However, she arrived at Boston Garden late, and security guards were turning people away because there was no more room. Panicked, but undaunted, she climbed a fire escape, lowered herself through a skylight and landed next to a security guard.
“The guard said to me, ‘Honey, if you want to hear Billy Graham, then go sit down on the stairs and listen to what he has to say,’” Aran recounted. “When the invitation came, I walked down the aisle.”
Today, Aran is married to a minister. And once a month she shares her faith and her testimony with inmates at a western Pennsylvania prison.
Those influenced the most by Billy Graham include the people closest to him — his wife, Ruth, and their five children. Over the last 50 years, his message, and his testimony, have remained constant.
“I would describe his message as being an old, old story and he doesn’t ever veer from it,” said daughter Anne Graham Lotz.
“His message is, ‘The Bible says,’ and that we must enter into a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ,” said another of his three daughters, Ruth Bell McIntyre.
“My father’s message over the decades has been just the simplicity of the gospel, to help people understand sin … to help people understand that they are sinners and that they need forgiveness,” said son Ned Graham.
In production since early February, the program will debut on Dec. 27, and local ABC affiliate stations can air it sometime during the eight weeks following the release date. Large markets, such as Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth and Phoenix are carrying the program the afternoon of the 27th, as are smaller markets like Rochester, N.Y., Spokane, Wash., and Anchorage, Alaska.
For information on air time in a particular market, or to order a copy of the video, call 1-800-777-1127.
NAMB’s broadcast communications group regularly produces documentaries for ABC and NBC, including “Driving Force,” about Christians in the NASCAR racing circuit, and “Circle of the Earth,” which featured poignant stories of faith from people in the space program.
Common Ground and other programs produced by NAMB can be ordered by calling 1-800-777-1127.
From studios in Fort Worth, the group also produces five weekly radio programs aired on 2,500 stations across the country, reaching an estimated 3 million-plus adult listeners every week. Additionally, the agency provides television programming to its FamilyNet affiliates as well as to the Odyssey cable network.

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  • Lynne Jones