I wonder how many people have a George Beverly Shea story? I have heard many already since the news of his passing. At 104 his life has spanned not only an immense number of years, but it has also spanned an immense number of generations. I pick the word generations because family generations have been impacted by him and the entire Graham team of who Mr. Shea was a significant part.
My George Beverly Shea story goes back to 1998 when I was part of the organizing team for the Graham Mission in Ottawa Ontario. From an intial team of just 7 men we worked to bring on board hundreds of churches in the area – including from Winchester Ontario where George Beverly Shea was born. At one point in the planning process a few of the Graham team including Mr. Shea came to Ottawa to meet with us.
When we met I was taken back by his size – he was a very tall, very big man and my hand seemed to disappear inside his. I was also taken back by how gentle and humble he seemed. He was warm, generous with his time and attention. He spoke at length about The Army and was well informed.
Of course he sang for us and his deep baritone voice filled the small room easily. My favourite song that he sang is I’ld rather have Jesus. Here’s Mr. Shea singing and talking about the history of the song.