For those unfamiliar with the I am Second ministries, it began in the minds of two men, Nathan Sheets, a Prestonwood member and vice president of e3 Partners Ministry, and Norm Miller, chairman of Interstate Batteries. I remember Pastor Graham saying one Sunday that, as one of the men was driving down the freeway, he noticed a big billboard that proclaimed “Dirk is Number One”, and thought, wouldn’t it be great to say that “Jesus is Number One”. The men envisioned a series of billboards and other media featuring famous athletes and others proclaiming this message, and thus, the I am Second ministry was born.
The first billboards launched in December of 2007 with a second round (including the one with Pastor Graham’s picture in Fort Worth, less than one mile from his boyhood home) in August of 2009. In addition, the ministry’s website has received more than a million visitors from around the world. This website features video testimonies from such folks as Colt McCoy, Josh Hamilton, Tim Tebow, Brian Welch (ex- Korn guitarist), actor Steven Baldwin, Pastor Tony Dungy, Sam Bradford, Tony Evans, Joe Gibbs, Jason Whitten and many other well-known men and women, including Pastor Graham.
Before we get to Pastor Graham’s testimony, I’d like to briefly address a couple of constructive criticisms that are sometimes mentioned regarding this ministry, the first concerning the name itself. In the Bible, the Apostle Paul says to “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves” (Php 2:3), so it is argued that the name should be “I am Third” (with Jesus first and others second). Theologically, this is correct, but I don’t believe for a minute that the ministries founders thought of “I am Second” as a statement on our relationship with others. Instead, the emphasis is on putting Jesus first in our lives.
The second critique involves the content of the testimonies, that many follow the format of “I didn’t want to come to God because I was so famous, successful, rich etc, and was afraid I would have to give this up, but after I came to Jesus, I found out that I was making more money, winning more games etc” instead of just presenting the Gospel. Again, the point is valid, but the emphasis is on getting people to consider Jesus. Many folks will watch these films who would never sit through a direct presentation of the Gospel. In a few cases when witnessing, we encounter a person who has already been prepared by the Holy Spirit to respond positively to the Gospel, but in many others, the Spirit will guide us to do some pre-evangelizing first. Thus, any of these testimonies can serve as a wonderful tool for removing objections and roadblocks that can prevent a person from even considering Jesus, and all leave a person wanting to know more about our Savior.
So, if the Lord leads, we hope you consider supporting and getting involved with this great ministry. Now, for Pastor Graham’s testimony:
It was summer of 1970. I was in a place called Crowell, Texas. Backside of nowhere really. Actually I was out preaching a youth revival when my brother called.
He said, “Jack, you need to come to Fort Worth. Our dad’s been hurt.” He said, “He’s been hit with a hammer.” I can remember the night that he died, and literally, the last time I walked in to see him, I gripped his hand and asked him to squeeze my hand. He squeezed my hand ever so faintly, and I can’t help but say that when I walked out of there I thought, “That’s the last time I’m going to see him alive.”
My dad had a hardware store. He worked for Buddy’s Hardware in Fort Worth. A shoplifter came in and ended up with a hammer in his hand and bludgeoned my father in the parking lot. My father lived for ten days. We waited and waited, praying each day that he would recover. He never regained consciousness. After ten days, he did pass away and went on to heaven.
That night, I went down to the little chapel at Harris Hospital. Walked in there by myself, late, late in the evening, and I can tell you that I sensed the presence of God in that room like few other times in my life. In the darkness of that night and incredible loss of that moment and just the traumatic experience of my dad being murdered… the Spirit of God dealt with me in a very powerful way.
I believe what happened that evening when my father died is that I truly surrendered to the lordship of Jesus in my life, and allowed him his rightful place of preeminence and power in my life. As a young minister, that was an important life lesson to learn… that it wasn’t about me, it wasn’t about my ministry, it wasn’t about being a professional. And that’s always been the desire of my life: that people would see Jesus in my life and ministry.
And the only way that can happen, I know, is for him to be first. For me to get out of the way and to let him have his rightful place in my life.
I’m Jack Graham, and I am second.