America Needs Another Billy Sunday
By David Berkowitz

Recently I began rereading a biography on the life of evangelist and preacher, Billy Sunday (1862-1935). The book is entitled “Billy Sunday and the Redemption of Urban America,” by Lyle Dorsett.

Billy Sunday was not a perfect man; he had his flaws and foibles. But when he preached from behind a pulpit, or at a rescue mission, or inside a big gospel meeting tent, Billy Sunday spoke with power and passion. His sermons were gripping, sometimes entertaining, but always convicting. And when he gave the invitation to the audience to receive Jesus Christ as Savior, the crowds came forward in droves.

Billy Sunday’s Story
In 1886, Billy Sunday was a baseball player for a team known as the Chicago White Stockings. After a game, he and several teammates went into the city to have a few drinks at a local saloon. But on the way to the bar, according to Mr. Dorsett, Billy Sunday encountered a “street preaching team from the Pacific Garden Mission.” This ministry team was perched on a strange-looking contraption known then as a “Gospel wagon.” The is wagon had a small brass band and a few singers on it, along with a preacher. Curiously, Billy decided to stop and listen.

Little did he know at the time that God was working in his heart. The preacher gave his testimony and Billy Sunday heard the gospel message. That day in 1886 on the streets of Chicago, Billy made the decision to receive Jesus Christ as his savior. He would never be the same again. Soon he would leave his baseball career to become a minister, and eventually a traveling evangelist. Billy Sunday would become legendary in the annals of both American and Christian history.

While Billy Sunday publicly declared his love for the Lord, he made it plain that he hated sin. He despised the liquor business. Alcohol was his arch enemy. He preached against the liquor industry with all his might. Billy Sunday’s flamboyant preaching style attracted large audiences. Wherever he went across the country the crowds would gather. His fiery sermons against booze helped to close many beer joints and night clubs; he put many a whiskey man out of business.

We need preaching like Billy Sundays’
Right now America is awash with all kinds of alcoholic beverages-many of which are produced and marketed explicitly for young adults. Some drinkers will lose their lives needlessly in accidents, some will become law breakers, and many will be lifelong slaves to alcohol. How wonderful it would be if another Billy Sunday were to come on the scene!

Like the Billy Sunday of old, he would be under the unction of the Holy Spirit, filled with the power of God. He would bring a message of repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. He would thunder against sin and warn about the dangers and horrors of alcohol use. The new Billy Sunday would lovingly urge his listeners to come to Christ for forgiveness. Mixed with this message would be a tender plea to begin a new life with the Lord.

How such a minister is needed today! In fact America needs many preachers like Billy Sunday-men who would speak with holy boldness from the pulpits of our churches, in jails, and prisons, at rescue missions, on military bases, in schools, and in our streets.

Furthermore, every Christian who’s alive today should become familiar with the late Billy Sunday’s sermon, ‘Get on the Water Wagon.” I believe it is one of the most urgent and pertinent messages for our time. In it, Billy Sunday exposes the damage alcohol has done to our nation, and how it has ruined many lives.

“Dear God, send us a man like Billy Sunday. Give us many men like him to bring revival to our land. Amen”

(from the Women’s Christian Temperance Union Journal - Sept.-Dec. 2011 Issue)


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