97: Fu Xianwei

97: Fu Xianwei

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Billy Graham & Me

• 97 •
FU XIANWEI

Chair of the National Committee of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches of China

In September 1988, when I was still a young volunteer at the Mu’en Church in China, Reverend Billy Graham came to visit Shanghai for the first time, at the invitation of the China Christian Council. On Sunday, Rev. Graham preached at two churches in Shanghai — one in the morning, the other in the evening. I helped with both. The first was in Mu’en Church and over 3,000 attended. The second gathering was in the evening, in Qingxin Church, and about 1,400 church members attended. He preached at an evangelistic gathering at Mu’en Church, and it was the first time I ever met him. I also met his wife Ruth at that time along with their son, Franklin.

Although Billy Graham was a well-known evangelist from America, I saw how very humble he was, and how he loved to communicate with people. When he finished the service at our Shanghai church and was about to leave, many parishioners came up to him, eager to greet the famous preacher. Reverend Graham took the time to shake hands with all of them, no matter if they were young or old, and no matter what their walk of life. He was so at ease, spending time with our Chinese community as if he was with any other group of Christians in the United States.

Recently, I was invited by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association to visit their center in Charlotte, North Carolina. I paid a personal visit to Billy Graham, meeting him in his office, where he received me with great hospitality. Although he was in a wheelchair, he was in good spirits and he told me his impressions of his visit to China. I was very moved by his kindness. Our talk was so natural and friendly, and I could tell how much he loved China and the Chinese Church. He told me that Ruth was born in Qingjiang City and grew up there. Her father and mother were Christian missionaries in China who had opened a clinic in Qingjiang to help give medical treatment to poor people in that region. Even today, people in Qingjiang still remember their work, and they even set up an exhibit a couple of years ago in remembrance of Ruth, her parents, and Billy Graham.

Mr. Graham told me that his family would always continue to try and facilitate the relationship between the churches in the United States and those in China. Chinese Christians are still quite moved by the Graham family’s great love for China. I could see that the presence of China is in their blood.

Billy Graham’s lifetime commitment to worldwide evangelization is impressive. His organization has indeed made a difference in China. Since his visit in 1988, many evangelical church leaders have come to visit China, including Reverend John Stott, Reverend Luis Palau, Pastor Rick Warren, Pastor Bill Hybels, and Dr. Geoff Tunnicliffe, the Secretary General of the World Evangelical Alliance, etc. It has widely broadened the communication between the Church in China and evangelical leaders.

In September 2011, we held a China-U.S. Christian leadership forum in Washington, D.C. The event was jointly held by the China Christian Council, the China Religious Culture Communication Association and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and through that event Chinese Christians and church leaders got to know a lot of American Christians and evangelical leaders in the United States, which deepened mutual understanding and friendship.

Billy Graham is a good friend to the Church in China and one who I respect deeply. And he has personally influenced me as well, allowing me to witness firsthand the great passion he has for his work, inspiring me to continue my work for the ministry here in China.

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