Johnny the Evangelist

“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30 NKJV).

Held in Dallas, Texas, Explo ’72 (short for “Spiritual Explosion”) attempted to make Christianity relevant to a generation who yearned for more than the status quo. The four-day event included evangelism classes, seminars, and esteemed guest speakers, and concluded with an outdoor concert attended by more than 150,000 people. Billy Graham, co-sponsor of Explo and the keynote speaker, referred to it as the “religious Woodstock.” Cash joined the lineup of guest musicians.

Decked out in his traditional black, Cash was introduced by Billy Graham as “the most exciting man in American music today.” During his performance he confessed, “I have tried drugs and a little of everything else, and there is nothing more satisfying than having the kingdom of God building inside of you and growing.”

Johnny and Billy Graham made a powerful tandem for Christ, recalled Tom Phillips of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. “The establishment in America at that time was anathema to young people, and even preachers were seen as establishment,” he said. “Johnny Cash had a life and the music that young people could relate to, and Billy had the message to deliver. They were a great combination for Jesus.”

Johnny Cash even took on Sin City during a seven-night run at the Las Vegas Hilton that paid him $100,000. He reportedly used his concerts to evangelize, and made altar calls at the end of the shows. He was forced to issue a disclaimer to a national newspaper, but emphatically added that “the Holy Spirit dwells in me at all times.”

His evangelical leanings and dedication to God was now a growing thread through his life and work.

Scripture Reading:

1. Praise the Lord, call upon His name; declare His deeds among the peoples, make mention that His name is exalted. (Isaiah 12:4 NKJV)

When is the last time you had the boldness to mention the Lord’s name and declare His deeds?

2. The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise. (Proverbs 11:30 NKJV)

Why do wisdom and evangelism go hand in hand?

3. Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God. But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God. (Luke 12:8–9 NKJV)

What is holding you back from sharing your faith with those around you?

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