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Since September 2018, we have had an inter-racial breakfast gathering at Steve’s Café. Hispanic, Junior (Atilano) Castillo from San Antonio, African American, Jamaine Pearson from Chattanooga, and I, a typical white Helenan, have become friends while we make plans. We’re all looking forward to the Big Sky Celebration with Billy Graham’s 44-year-old grandson, Will Graham.

Recognizing the need for the Gospel to have greater impact in Helena, a local group invited Will to come. He has a heart for Montana and said “Yes!” That commitment has led to a $550,000 investment by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in Helena. The celebration will be Sept. 6-8 at the Lewis and Clark County Fairgrounds. Among the musical artists coming are The Afters and Jeremy Camp. For more, see www.BigSkyCelebration.com. Come and bring a friend.

Although our local committee of nine is remarkable, we depend upon Junior and Jamaine -- among other BGEA staff -- to lead. I wanted you to know some of what it means for BGEA to send them to help us.

Years ago, when I helped churches qualify pastoral candidates, I’d ask myself: “What has it taken for this candidate to come this far?” Consider what Junior’s and Jamaine’s stories.

Transportation and time away from home

Typically, to get a plane to Helena, Junior and Jamaine arise at zero-dark-thirty from their respective airports, San Antonio and Chattanooga. Typically, coming for three or four days, at times, they have stayed for a week or more. Imagine. Then, to fly from Helena, they arise at zero-dark-thirty again.

Their 33-year joint history with BGEA

Junior and his wife, Juanita became “family members” of BGEA, January 2000. Their Crusade ministry journey began in Amarillo, Texas. Junior has been honored to serve in various U.S. cities for three generations of Graham’s: Dr. Billy Graham, Rev. Franklin Graham and, for the past six years, he has served on Will Graham’s Celebration Team. For Billy’s Crusades, Junior and Juanita would move to a city a year before the rally, rent an apartment and go to work. Some called them a “power” couple. Junior is our very capable celebration director.

Jamaine started working for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in 2005. Since then, he has worked on evangelistic events for both Franklin Graham and Will Graham. He currently serves as the counseling and follow-up coordinator for Will Graham’s Celebrations.

Their love for Jesus and others

May 1, 1979, at a revival meeting in his small home town of Littlefield, Texas, Junior received Jesus as Lord. Junior’s passion is serving people, sharing the love of God and encouraging people to excel where they are, pointing people to the Cross – the source of their help!

Jamaine gave his life to Christ in high school under the preaching of Rev. Newsome at New Bethel A.M. Zion Church, Fayetteville, North Carolina. God has uniquely gifted Jamaine with hope for the hopeless, compassion for the fatherless, and patience with the directionless. His focus is sharing the good news of Jesus Christ through gospel-saturated acts of love, justice, and mercy. He aims to accomplish this mission by meditating on God’s word until he gets a joy-filled picture of Christ in his heart that spills over with prayer, praise, wisdom and discernment.

Partnering together

People who work for BGEA are, in my experience, all hard-working people. Working together for years has brought Junior and Jamaine deep respect for each other

Jamaine’s other work includes leading, training and counseling military soldiers. For 20 years, he has faithfully served in the Army Reserves. He has a dual role: Military Resilience Trainer and Readiness NCO. When at home in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Jamaine spends his time volunteering with a Christian nonprofit, Hope for the Inner City, and enjoys hiking local trails.

Junior married his high school sweetheart, Juanita, in October 1973. Their daughter, Amy Elaine married Dan Dellinger. They have two sons – Christopher and Cy.

December 2009, Junior and Juanita’s story took a radical turn. Juanita’s life was threatened by a stroke; she was hospitalized for 72 days. Since then, she has never spoken an understandable word.

Unprompted, Amy and Dan immediately volunteered to move from Colorado to Texas to help care for Juanita. They help with her care and her physical therapy – especially when Junior is away. Juanita has limited mobility and is still recovering from major falls in 2016. But, her spirit is effervescent. Ask Junior to show you a picture of radiant Juanita.

Despite the challenges of life, these men have become brothers who agree: To God be All the Glory.

Enlarging the picture

May 2, 2019, at our National Day of Prayer an African American, an Indian American, an American Indian and I stood together at the podium in our Capitol’s rotunda. As I stood with these brothers, I remembered breakfasts with Junior and Jamaine. And I thought of a life-sized picture of Billy Graham and Johnny Cash at BGEA headquarters. Johnny Cash wrote: “I have many friends, but Billy is my best friend.”

Jesus forged that unity. He prayed (John 17:20): “I pray those who will believe in me…may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you…so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” God is answering Jesus’ prayer.

And this is just one gift that comes to many who will believe. Will you trust Jesus?

For a clear presentation of the Gospel, please come and welcome our new friends, Will Graham and partners, Sept. 6-8 at the fairgrounds.

And be welcomed. You may be curious; you may have needs; you may simply want to come with a friend to hear what Will and his team have to say. In Big Sky Country, we are surrounded by beauty, but we need to be connected with God.

That’s Jesus’ specialty. Will Graham will point you to Jesus. As you and Jesus bond, imagine the long-awaited welcome God will give you – now – and especially after his purposes for you here are accomplished. Come, join the ultimate inter-racial gathering in heaven.

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Steve Bostrom, a descendant of Swedish homesteaders, husband of Via, father of eight, and grandfather of 12, loves Helena and serves here as a pastor at large. He is ordained by the Presbyterian Church in America. To contact him, email: stevebostrom@gmail.com.

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