APEX, N.C. — Members of one local congregation could not make the trip to New York this weekend for Billy Graham's final revival meeting in the United States. But, that did not mean they were missing Billy Graham's message.
Members of Olive Chapel Baptist Church, in Apex, gathered for a 40-hour prayer marathon to parallel Graham's last American crusade. Starting at 5 p.m. on Friday, the congregation rotated one-hour shifts and prayed continuously until 9 a.m. Sunday.
"For 40 continuous hours we have people in prayer," Dennis Long, pastor of Olive Chapel Baptist Church, said. "At three a.m. somebody's here."
He said it was important for people who could not attend the crusade to be there in spirit.
"We believe that prayer is the key, so we wanted to participate that way," Long said. "We couldn't send 300 people, so we sent 28 and prayers of 300."
One of the 28 who went to New York for the crusade was 16-year-old Zachary Strickland, who served as a decision counselor.
"They are the people that are in the front with Billy Graham," Deborah Strickland, Zachary's mother, said. "He called us last night. He said he was having a wonderful time, it's a lot of fun and that there were a lot of people there."
The church prayed for Zachary's mission group, too.
"We prayed that they would actually reach people, and that this would be a blessing for them," Jane Stine said.
Members of the church said Graham's message, and prayer, transcends time and generations.
"There's never been a great movement of God that wasn't first anointed in prayer," Long said.