Two of the greatest saints of God who ever lived died today and entered the glories of heaven.
One of those saints, Billy Graham, was well known. In his 99 years he had touched every corner of the earth. In one sense he was a simple Baptist preacher. In another sense he was a giant of a man. Billy Graham stated "My one purpose in life is to help people find a personal relationship with God, which, I believe, comes through knowing Christ". That being so he fulfilled that purpose well. He preached in 180 countries and in the process preached to an estimated 250 million people. I have known of Billy Graham all of my life. As a kid growing up we used to gather around the television and listen to him preach. Many years later I had the privilege of serving as a counselor in one of his crusades. I stood within 40 feet of him but never had the opportunity to meet him personally. I think there were smiles in heaven today when Billy Graham arrived. And I think there was a smile on his face when he stood before the throne and met the Lord Jesus.
The other great saint that passed from earth today and began her days of heavenly rejoicing was Thelma Perkins. She was not known by very many people outside of the locality of where she lived. But I knew her well. I first met Thelma Perkins when I was seven years old. Our family was new in town and we joined the Gano Avenue Baptist Church where Thelma and her family were members. She became a lifelong friend to all of us. But we found her worthy of so much respect that none of us, not even my mom and dad, would address her, by any other term except “Mrs. Perkins”. Mrs. Perkins spent her 94 years on this earth loving and serving the Lord through her church and loving and encouraging the people that God placed in her path. Mrs. Perkins was a homemaker caring for her husband and raising three children. She was a kind neighbor. She was a gracious host. You would always get a good meal at her house but more importantly you felt love and warmth and kindness in her home. She never said unkind words about others and her presence made you cautious about engaging in unworthy speech as well. She was one of those people that the love and grace and mercy and kindness of Jesus just oozed out of. Her kind of character and demeanor is rare in the world. Mrs. Perkins was an ardent student of the Bible and was a Sunday School teacher for over sixty-five years. She had a great interest in missions and though she never traveled that much she prayed for people all over the world. I know she prayed for me. Her life and example has been an encouragement to me and many others.
Billy Graham got to heaven early this morning. Mrs. Perkins got there about 10:20 AM eastern time. I am not sure what the protocol of heaven is like. But somehow I think that with these two great saints arriving on the same day that protocol was broken. There must have been applause. Maybe the heavenly choir got a little extra excitement and danced while they sang. Surely somebody shouted. I was not there so I don’t know. But I think that when the Rev. Billy Graham and Mrs. Perkins stood before the throne today the face of the Lord Jesus was beaming when He said “Well done, my good and faithful servant”.