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Dorm director recalls crusading with Graham

April 8, 1997


By Melissa Harlow

Lariat Reporter

A wide picture hangs in her apartment of a Billy Graham Crusade.

Bobbie Bratcher, Alexander Residence Hall director, originally signed on to the Billy Graham Crusade for six months, but ended up staying for 13 years.

It was while settling plans for a teaching career that Bratcher's life pulled from another direction. In the midst of accepting a teaching job in business administration, she was looking into volunteering with the Billy Graham Crusade, which was then stationed in Lubbock.

Should she accept working as part of the Crusade, Bratcher was told, it would be a six-month commitment in which she would assist the crusade director while the team was stationed in Lubbock.

'It was a tough decision,' Bratcher said. 'But I was told teaching was something I could get into anytime, whereas the Crusade was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.'

The Crusade is a mass evangelism team, which travels from city to city, mostly working through local churches. Crusade workers spend anywhere from eight months in training and preparation for the Crusade and two to three months after of follow-up work.

Bratcher's decision to go extended beyond the original six-month agreement and on to a nine-month commitment as part of the following Crusade in Seattle.

From there, the domino effect set in--it not only intensified Bratcher's responsibilities in each new location, but it also transformed her first few months of volunteering into a 13-year ministry.

Bratcher traveled to more than 25 cities. Spending 13 years on the Crusade, Bratcher met and talked with Graham from time to time.

'He's a very personable, humble, sincere and compassionate man,' Bratcher said. 'Not only would we talk about and keep on task with Crusade material, but there were times we would talk about family and friends, even the weather,' Bratcher said.

Bratcher also met such guest performers and speakers as Sandi Patti, James Dobson, Larnelle Harris, Norman Zimmer and Corrieten Boom.

She said her most memorable experience as part of the Crusade was while stationed in Gothenburg, Sweden.

'I remember coming out of the arena, doing some last-minute things before the night's events, when I saw Mr. Graham and a few of his staff heading in my direction on their way to a prayer meeting. He, of all people, was on a very tight schedule, and so I backed out halfway onto the ramp leading into the arena in order to let them pass. I remember them reaching the edge of this ramp, stopping, and could see Mr. Graham turning, heading right towards me, though I thought he was coming out to look into the arena,' Bratcher said.

At that moment Graham stopped in front of her and took her hand, saying, 'I haven't had a chance to speak with you yet, but thank-you for giving six months of your life to Gothenburg.' And then Graham headed on to his appointment.

Bratcher said these years changed and strengthened her life in personal ways.

'Many memories were made along the way, and it was hard at times to leave a city, though I knew I would be leaving and always felt the excitement of going on and being involved,' she said. 'Many times we ran into financial struggles where our needs were just short of being met. Time and again I saw God provide and there were some cases when we received more than what was needed at the time,' Bratcher said, learning that God tends to be on time, though seldom early.

'We just have to rest in the palm of his hand knowing he is going to provide...and let him do it,' she said.

As with many things, there was a downside to working on the Crusade. Being away from family, leaving new-found friends, and physically, emotionally and spiritually at times experiencing burnout were some of the complications.

Everyone involved in ministry has to allow time for just themselves as a source of replenishment, she said.

Leaving the Crusade and returning to the University was a decision that fell into place for Bratcher. The time came where she felt a peace with moving on to other things, and at that time, she said, the Lord more or less placed the University on her heart. Though eager to return to her alma mater, hall directing had changed a lot since she lived in a dorm. No longer are there warm body checks each night, nor is curfew as strict and early as it was a few years back.

She started out at Collins Residence Hall for five months and at the end of this semester, will have been at Alexander Hall for three and a half years, for a total of four years of directing as of this June. She will be returning to Collins in the Fall.

'I had no idea what to expect as a hall director, but so far, disregarding the paperwork, it's been a great deal of fun,' she said.

Bratcher stresses that each day is a new advantage and the importance of living one day at a time.

'Make the relationship with the Lord priority in your life. He will help you through the challenges of life and only through seeking Him can you experience real peace and joy...and you can't find it anywhere else,' she said.

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