Billy Graham’s Right-Hand Choir Man Dies

Cliff Barrows led music and emceed six decades of Graham crusades

Graham’s music and program director was there for the first crusade in Grand Rapids, Mich., in 1947 and continued serving until the last crusade in New York, 11 years ago. Barrows was the youngest member of the iconic trio comprised of himself, Graham, and George Beverly Shea, who died in 2013 at age 104. Together they formed the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), which has shared the gospel with millions around the world.

 

(WNS)–Cliff Barrows, the man who brought the melody to Billy Graham’s worldwide crusades for six decades, died Nov. 15. He was 93.

Graham’s music and program director was there for the first crusade in Grand Rapids, Mich., in 1947 and continued serving until the last crusade in New York, 11 years ago. Barrows was the youngest member of the iconic trio comprised of himself, Graham, and George Beverly Shea, who died in 2013 at age 104. Together they formed the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), which has shared the gospel with millions around the world.

Barrows was an instrumental part of Graham’s ministry, serving as a song leader, choir director, and the emcee for a ministry that evangelized to stadiums packed to capacity.

“Cliff Barrows was the voice behind my father for 60 years, emceeing the platform for his crusades and The Hour of Decision radio program,” said Billy Graham’s son, Franklin, who now leads the BGEA. “Not only was he one of my father’s closest friends, but he was a friend to all of us on the team and in the family. Growing up, and until the day of his death, I called him Uncle Cliff.”

Graham first met Barrows in Asheville, N.C., while Barrows was on his honeymoon in 1945. The two quickly became inseparable.

Despite his declining health, Barrows joined his best friend in the city where they first met to celebrate Graham’s 95th birthday in 2013. In a room of 800 well-wishers, including celebrities and politicians, Graham spotlighted his family and Barrows, rather than the big names who showed up to honor him.

“Cliff, I want to thank you,” Graham said, according to the Charlotte Observer. “This celebration is partly for you as well. And I want to thank you for all that you have meant to me through all the years.”

Born in Ceres, Calif., Barrows started in ministry at an early age. He learned to read music and play the piano from his Aunt Helen and with her help, convinced his pastor to let him lead the church choir on Sunday nights.

Barrows became an ordained Baptist minister in 1944 and served as an assistant pastor at Temple Baptist Church in St. Paul, Minn., before he met Graham a year later.

For his musical contributions, Barrows joined the Nashville Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1988 and the Religious Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 1996. In 2008, he was part of the inaugural class of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists’ “Hall of Faith.”

Barrows’ musical talent left a profound impression on the millions who heard him perform.

“Cliff Barrows is now singing praises in heaven,” said Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-N.C. “Cliff’s warm demeanor was always an important part of communicating God’s love through television, one-on-one, and in massive stadiums. No doubt he will meet tens of thousands of believers in heaven who came forward as he led the crusade choir in ‘Just As I Am.’”

Graham once said, “The remarkable contribution Cliff has made to my ministry cannot be measured in human terms.”

Barrows is survived by his wife, Ann, his five children, and their families. The family will hold a public funeral service for Barrows at Calvary Church in Charlotte, N.C., on Nov. 22. Graham, now 98, will not be in attendance because of his deteriorating health.

© 2016 World News Service. Used with permission.