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Three good reasons to honor your parents

Stephen Harris Back In The Hometown –

Honor your father and mother … that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth. – Ephesians 6:1

I was taught in children’s Sunday school here in the hometown many, many moons ago that if I obeyed my parents, did what they told me, was a good little boy, then I’d live a good, long life.

I think most would agree today that the Bible actually teaches, as Proverbs 3:1 states, that a good, pleasant life will follow if you start honoring your parents from early on.

However, we may have to rethink this Fifth of the famous Ten Commandments.

Billy Graham would have turned 100 years old today. North Carolina’s most famous favorite son did not quite make it to centenarian honors, as he passed Feb. 22 from a number of ailments complicated by old age.

Graham’s long-time partner in Christian ministry, singer George Beverly Shea, lived to 104. I wrote on this page in 2013 about my brief encounter with Shea, and pleasant only begins to describe the man. Graham’s other long-time colleague, choir leader Cliff Barrows, lived to 93.


A globe-trotting evangelist, Graham never pretended to be heavenly holy. He did not get saved, did not dedicate his life to Christ, until he was 16 at a old-style tent revival in his native Charlotte.

But Graham’s story includes a good start in life as an obedient, hard-working son who got up in the middle of each and every night to milk dairy cows with his father and who memorized Bible verses set out at the kitchen table by his mother.

My favorite is Shea. During a rain delay during a Graham crusade service in Charlotte in 1996, I stood watching the rain in the visitors tunnel at the big football stadium. I heard the voice of God behind me, I turned and there at my shoulder stood Shea, perhaps restless because of the delay and who had taken to wandering around.

Sure I was stunned, but Shea set me at ease quickly by chatting pleasantly about fishing in his native Ontario, his fishing boat and how wonderful it all was. What a pleasant and winsome fellow.

Son of a Wesleyan Methodist minister, Shea said he became a Christian when very young, he once told Decision Magazine, a Billy Graham Evangelistic Association publication, but “there were times when I needed to rededicate my life.” At 18 Shea did so during a Friday night service after Shea’s father descended from the pulpit and talked to him.

Graham was guarded around the press, folks like me, and smartly so. Shea, out of the spotlight most times, had no such qualms with me. Wish I had asked to go with him fishing some time. Bet he would’ve issued an open invitation. I would’ve gone.

As the rain abated, Shea left me feeling good about things.

I never met Barrows. He grew up on a California citrus farm, committed to Christ when he was young, had gospel hymns drilled into him by his mother and accepted a call to ministry as an adolescent.

It’s impossible to say how things would have gone if Graham had not had Shea and Barrows with him for so long. Maybe God would have sent Graham other capable colleagues. But my bet is that Graham without Shea and Barrows would have been just a shadow of what he became.

This terrific trio did not live so long because they were such good young fellows or because they were heavenly holy.

But because they were good, decent gentlemen who honored their folks and God, those are reasons enough to want to be more like Graham, Shea and Barrows. Happy birthday.

Stephen Harris returned home to live in State Road.


By Stephen Harris

For The Tribune