CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The passing of Dr. Billy Graham is a sad moment for many of the pastors who fill pulpits across the Carolinas.
Beyond the crusades are millions of lives that were influenced over the years by Dr. Graham, including generations of people who went into full-time Christian ministry.
Two men from different parts of North Carolina both heard the call to ministry, and ended up at a Salisbury church, and they both say Billy Graham had a profound impact on their lives and ministries.
Dr. Kenneth Lance is senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Salisbury, Reverend Rod Kerr is a licensed counselor and the Minister of Education at the church, and both men say the influence of Billy Graham led them to the ministry.
Dr. Lance grew up like so many, seeing those crusades on television.
"It birthed within me a desire to share in some way what he was doing," Dr. Lance said, "and that is proclaiming the gospel, ministering to souls that are broken, helping them to know that God loves them and has a better story written for them."
For Reverend Kerr, he also saw the crusades, but one day in the early 1970's was working as a clerk in the Baptist Book Store in Charlotte when a familiar face walked in.
"Dr. Graham came in, he was very, he knew exactly what he wanted," Kerr recalled. "So, we happened to have it, I sold him the Bible and I just kind of watched him, he was just so gracious, a very gracious man, I decided that day to go to his revival that night at the Charlotte Coliseum."
Kerr also pointed the appeal of the simplicity of Graham's message.
"His knowledge of the story of the Bible," Kerr said. "It's a lot of different books written over 1500 years with forty different authors, yet he brought it all together with one story."
Dr. Lance also pointed out that while many Christians may mourn the passing of Billy Graham, the event is also one of joy.
"That this faithful servant servant of God is now receiving the reward from God that he proclaimed and said was available to all of us in equal amount because of Jesus Christ," Lance said.
That influence led both men to answer a call to ministry, and each one has served in that capacity in churches and schools across North Carolina for decades.