Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, Wilson Chowdhry has praised Reverend Wiliam Graham the world renowned global evangelist attributed with initiating televangelism, in words of tribute today, after hearing of the prominent Christian ministers death on 21st February 2018, at 99 years of age. Read tribute by Premier Christian Radio (click here).
Wilson Chowdhry, recalled travelling with his father in a beat-up car in 1989 to view Rev Billy Graham as he led a huge outreach programme at Wembley in 1989. At the time Mr Chowdhry was the tender age of 13 and he did not really understand what was awaiting him at London’s most famous event arena.
Mr Chowdhry’s father Waheeb Chowdhry was eager to see Rev Graham and even a flat tyre on the way to the event was not going to keep him from hearing the gospel preached by a man he believed was ‘the most Holy Spirit-filled person’ on the earth for the entirety of his life.
Waheeb Chowdhry, had been following Rev Graham’s preaching through videos and was in eager anticipation of his presence in London. Mr Waheeb Chowdhry believed that Mr Graham would inspire new followers to the church and was encouraging Christians and people of other faiths to travel to Wembley to ‘feel the presence of God. In Mr Waheeb Chowdhry’s mind there was no question that Billy Graham had a special connection with God and those that attended could expect a life-changing experience that would bless them and reciprocally those they interacted with across the UK.
He was right! The event was packed to the rafters as tens of thousands crowded into the iconic old Wembley Stadium with its much revered twin towers that football fans will never forget. Even better the audience at the venue was diverse, you could see people from a wide variety of backgrounds waiting to hear the Gospel message that Rev Graham had been inspired to share with visitors. “Huge numbers of people from others faiths and no faith turned to Christ that day. None of them met Rev Graham personally but all were touched by God’s presence that emanated through him with powerful effect.”
Thousands upon thousands of people gave their life to Christ that evening, moved by the Gospel of Christ as spoken by Rev Graham and the power of the Holy Spirit which convicted many people and healed many others of long term illnesses and conditions. “The atmosphere was enthralling, the presence of God so thick you could palpably feel the Holy Spirit brushing against you, as it consumed your old self, renewing your body, mind and spirit and bringing you that much closer to understanding what heaven would one day be like – a place of ceaseless joy”, said Wilson Chowdhry.
“I was only a teenager and was struggling to understand God, the Church, the Bible but as I stood there worshipping and praying I felt am emptiness I had in my soul cease to exist. I felt complete and was totally aware of the presence and power of God.” He added.
Mr Chowdhry, explained further that although this was his first real encounter with God, he would still have to go through some trials and backsliding before he made a firm commitment with God, but from that day he knew deep in his heart that God was real. A belief that would not leave him even though he struggled with a hard drug addiction form the age of 21 – 27, before an outreach officer from Potters House Christian Centre in Ilford shared
a message of God’s eternal love – again empowered by the Holy Spirit – that reminded him that God was always willing to redeem even the darkest of sinners, if they chose to believe.
Mr Chowdhry, remembers quite clearly the moment he felt compelled to rise from his seat and to walk down the huge stairs of Wembley to pray at the alter, he expounded further:
“I felt embarrassed, I came from a family of Pakistani Christians who were very well known in our community. My father had initiated the first ever Asian Christian Church in the UK in 1969, six years before I was born.
“Though Rev Graham’s words were much the same as hundreds of preachers I had heard before and did not actually provide any new insight, they were powered by the Holy Spirit and were battering down my resistance.
“Rev Graham must have challenged people to commit their lives to Jesus around 10 times, before I plucked up the courage to respond to the deep yearning in my soul. I thought my family members would look at me weird wondering why I was not already committed to Christ – I was a foolish child in many ways.
“I watched as my mother welled up with tears as I made the decision to walk down, not through any fear but happy to see that her son was entering a new phase of life, where he would walk with Christ as his daily partner. She was a prayer warrior and only opened her eyes when she felt me brush her side as I got up. I did not say anything to her then, I did not feel the need for now, I just wanted to grab my salvation and to grip on to it tightly.
“My father was deep in prayer and was not aware of my decision, but later he hugged me and shared words of encouragement, he always knew what to do as he had walked with God so long.
“I prayed with a counsellor a process that was cathartic and consuming, he later put me in touch with members of Ilford High Road Baptist Church, were I attended with my family and for a year Grace and Len took me through a teaching process coordinated by Rev Graham’s mission, that ensured I knew the essentials of my faith and much more.
“There was still some resistance in me and up to this point I only committed to learning more about my faith and getting closer to God. I totally gave my life to Christ only a few months later at a Boy’s Brigade Camp at the Isle of White, thanks to another less known man of God named Raymond Lewis.
“He taught me humility, the meaning of forgiveness and the love that Christ can create in us that enables us to love others. However, without a doubt that Holy Spirit filled event on a rainy day in Wembley was my first real and solid encounter with God. A memory that will never fade but encourages me to continue sharing the Gospel with others, as I know there is an epiphany awaiting others just like it did for me that fateful day.”
Mr Chowdhry, explained the wonderment he feels to this day of having been at the 1989 Bily Graham crusade. The whole event was so well coordinated with a mysterious poster campaign that simply had the words ‘LIFE’ in bold white, on a black background and encouraged people to visit Wembley to learn more. ‘Posters were on buses, bill boards, churches and other advertising hoarding, it was everywhere across London and other parts of the UK’, said Wilson Chowdhry.
Moreover, the Billy Graham mission had thousands of volunteers and drew partnerships with a huge variety of churches ensuring those who stepped forward, committed their lives to Christ or were healed had a clear pathway to classes for deeper understanding, access to regular worship or simply further counselling. The outreach was brilliantly administered and brought so many Christians together – an astounding united body of Christians ready
to capture souls for Christ.
“I don’t think I will ever see such a large gathering of Christians again in my life, nor such an integrated salvation mission.
“To be able to bring about such a visionary and successful mission – without any personal scandal, is evidence enough for me, that God had chosen Rev Billy Graham to be his Ambassador on earth”, concluded Wilson Chowdhry.