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"Wonder-working Pow'r"

By George A. Leiper

As the voice from the sound-truck may have told you as it passed on the street, when other folks were out getting drunk on New Year's Eve, 6,000 of the faithful turned up at Mechanics Hall to hear Billy Graham speak. The evangelist who had such success in Los Angeles is apparently duplicating it here in Boston, where he has been appearing at Mechanics Hall and the Opera House.

The service was already underway when I arrived. The whole auditorium was filled and everyone was loudly singing a hymn from a printed sheet of lyrics handed out by the ushers. The lady sitting next to me helped me find the right hymn, "There is Wonderworking Pow'r in the Blood of the Lamb." A tousle-haired young man was both directing the singing and accompanying the singers on a trombone. After a few hymns, the collection was taken.

This young man was followed by seven or eight other assistants to Mr. Graham, who had not yet appeared. One speaker told how their representative in China was being threatened by the Communists. He also asked for funds for the "Mid-Century Evangelistic Campaign," warning his listeners not to let their money become "congealed labor."

During the singing of the last hymn, a tall, blond man with angular features and deep-set eyes made himself a little conspicuous by fooling with some wires which seemed to run from him down to the edge of the stage. This man turned out to be Billy Graham who had been connecting his lapel microphone to the amplifying system.

The Gospel was taken from the eighth chapter of John, first verse, in which Jesus rescues from the Pharisees the woman taken in adultery, saying: "He that is without sin among you, let him first east a stone at her."

In his sermon, the 31-year old Mr. Graham exhibited his powerful voice and dramatic ability. When he said that "Moses would have told them to stone this woman to death," he went through the motions of stoning some invisible body lying on the stage before him. However, his gestures were stereotyped and his repertory small; I found him using many precise declamatory gestures loosely and without specific meaning.

The audience was quiet and attentive to the sermon, unlike some revival audiences this writer has seen in the South. Some excerpts from the sermon: "It was the common people that Christ appealed to. And it's the common people that Communism is appealing to. Communism is inspired by the Devil . . . Another evangelist once told me, 'Billy, the spiritual mentality of our people is only 12 years old, remember that. We need to talk the language of the streets today.' . . . But I tell you that a revival will come, I tell you, brother, it will come when the first bomb is dropped on New York or Boston . . . If safe, conservative, so-called intellectual New England can have a revival, why, why shouldn't it sweep the whole West. . . Wouldn't you like to know you were saved if an atomic bomb fell on Boston? . . . I tell you, brother: I have a family, I have two little girls, I have a lovely home, but I tell you I can't see beyond the next 10 or 15 years . . . Let's pray that God may save this old city for Jesus Christ."

While the congregation was with heads bowed, Mr. Graham called upon all who wanted to be saved to come forward--"no one is looking." Those who came forward, a goodly number, were ushered through a side door by assistants, "to have a little scripture read to them." With a closing hymn, the meeting was over, and 6,000 Christians headed for the subways and homes.

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