A Double Miracle
The story of Jack and May Griffin as told to Margaret Mulholland Cooper, first printed in Decision Magazine, January, 1979 and reprinted in The Compass, Volume 2 No. 2, March, 1979.
… we share a common birthday—April 12, 1959—when on a fine Sunday afternoon, we walked out hand in hand across the turf to receive Jesus …
I am three months older than May, but we share a common birthday—April 12, 1959—when on a fine Sunday afternoon, the first day of the Billy Graham Crusade at Sydney Showground, we walked out hand in hand across the turf to receive Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord.
I attended the Crusade that first afternoon with no sense of need in my heart whatsoever. I was a successful businessman, one of four boys, brought up in a strict but non-christian home. I grew up completely ignorant of the things of God.
After leaving school at fifteen, I worked as a motor spare parts salesman, before serving five years in the army as a commissioned officer in World War II.
When I left the army, I started my own business, manufacturing motor body parts and accessories,. It was a highly successful venture and everything I touched turned to gold. We had all we could wish for, a lovely, home, cars, a deep sea fishing boat and a good bank account.
But with all this there was a vacuum in my heart and life. I had no real joy or peace, satisfaction or purpose in life, other than to make money. For the sake of fellowship and friendship I joined most clubs available to me, the R.S.L., the Ski Club, the Masonic Club, the Golf Club, and many, many others. But I still could not fill that vacuum in my life.
May, whom I married in 1931, had a Christian mother who prayed for me for over thirty years. But May and her four brothers had never embraced their mother’s faith. To both of us the Bible was an unknown book. But we had a Christian daughter who had been praying for us for nine years, and had persuaded us to attend church with her twice during the previous year.
People in that church had started to pray, and the Saturday afternoon before the Crusade started the pastor called, offering us “the last two free tickets” he had for the opening of the Crusade. “For free” just sort of impressed me a little, and May suggested that as we hadn’t a golf commitment or any other commitment the next day, why didn’t we go out then, and get the thing over and done with, and the pastor off our back.
We went in the church bus, arrived late and were unable to sit together. I settled down to enjoy the choir singing, which to me was like a good concert. But as the voice of George Beverly Shea ran out across the Showground, testifying, “I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold,” I wondered who this Jesus was he’d rather have than silver or gold. For I was a business man, successfully making my own silver and gold, and Jesus to me was just a blasphemous word.
Billy Graham was talking about the two roads of life. He said, “What road are you on?” and he pointed directly at me. For the very first time in my life I came under conviction that here I was, a self-made, self-righteous man, but in the sight of a holy God, I was nothing better than a hell-bound lost sinner, on the wide road to destruction. As I rose out of my seat to go forward and turned to indicate this to May, sitting some rows behind, I saw she too had risen. God wrought a double miracle in the Griffin household that day.
After this we went out to the whole twenty eight meetings. We couldn’t wait for the church bus, so we went in our car and took neighbours and friends with us. Out of these a total of thirteen went forward to give their lives to Christ. We had a wonderful time.
Although we live within the precincts of five churches, I never remember hearing the gospel before. But the first time I heard it, it made sense to me. We had lived 47 years outside of Christ, and now we were eager to learn all we could about Him.
Hungry to know the Bible, we purchased children’s storybooks, which I would read to May while she ironed at night. We would then look up the references in the Bible together. I had once refused to listen to my Christian daughter reading to me about Matthew the tax collector. I reckoned I had enough trouble with the taxation department as it was. Now I was eager to learn, not only about Matthew, but every other Bible character as well.
We attended a church Bible study specifically for new converts. But my ignorance of the Bible was so great that I had to ask where I could find John’s Gospel. I continually asked questions, and I still do. So I was put into a special Sunday School class to help me. We both became very busy in the church. We became Sunday School teachers ourselves, and I was a deacon, while May became secretary of the Ladies Guild.
And there the miracle might have ended. But in 1961 Leighton Ford came to Sydney, and with him came a Navigator-trained businessman, Bob Glockner. I met him through the counselling classes and we became very firm friends.
“How’s your quiet time?”
— I said, “What’s that?”
Before Bob left America, he had prayed for a band of faithful men to disciple, and for one faithful man among these, to carry on the work of reproducing disciples in Australia. He started a 5:30 a.m. prayer meeting with me and a few much younger men. I was the son of a milkman, so the early rising presented no problem to me, but it did to the others. After 3-4 weeks, I was the only one left. Bob felt I was the man he had prayed for, so he asked me if I was willing to spend time with him, sharing the basics of the Christian life. I eagerly agreed, and so Bob, fifteen years my junior, became my spiritual father. He first asked me, “How’s your quiet time?” I said, “What’s that?” for nobody had ever taught me how to have a quiet time. But this was the lighting of the match. Bob asked me to make a covenant with the Lord, as from the next morning—no Bible, no breakfast. That was a pretty tough covenant to make, but I have been able to keep that vow for 18 years now.
Bob taught me how to have this quiet time, how to pray and have a daily Bible reading; how to memorize scripture and how to get a grip on the scriptures by taking notes on what I heard and reviewing them, and by meditating on what I read. He also taught me how to lead another person to Christ, and how to stay beside him and help him after.
I wrote down all he taught me, went home and taught it to May. So having never spoken of the things of God together in 28 years of marriage, we now commenced spending an hour a day together in prayer, Bible reading and scripture memorizing, in addition to our personal morning quiet time. After two years in our new life we were still spiritual babes, but now we began to grow.
Bob taught me to likewise pray for one faithful man in whom I could invest my life. But it was 18 months before God answered my prayer and gave me one hungry-hearted pastor, who has since become a full-time Navigator representative. During this time we led many to Christ, but could get no one down to real business with God.
In 1966 it was suggested to me that I commence a work among university students in Australia. I agreed and said, “Lord, You lead me to some university boys,” and headed for the campus. After seven to eight months I got five men in whom I started to invest my life. Four of these are today full-time Navigator staff, two of them both PhD’s investing their lives for the Lord in South East Asia.
In 1973 I wound up my business, and became a full-time Navigator representative. My age and sometimes indifferent health* made me hesitate, but I felt this was God’s call to me and so I eventually accepted.
I was once a high pressure businessman working for myself. But now I’m equally busy investing for eternity, and May and I are co-partners in the disciple-making business. We’ve seen many people come to Jesus and we’ve seen many people built up in the faith and it’s really been wonderful.
It is not surprising then that when Billy Graham* comes to Sydney in April 1979, we, together with many we have trained, will be ready and eager to help disciple the new babes in Christ. For we know it works.
*After several years of illness culminating in a number of brain tumors, Jack Griffin went to be with the Lord on 1 November 1982.
*Dr Billy Graham continued to spread the Gospel until his passing on 21 February 2018. You can find out more about Billy Graham, his crusades, and his legacy here.