By Cece Hang’andu —
George Palmer and his boys, armed with concealed zip guns, didn’t go to the Billy Graham crusade to hear him preach. They went to kill him.
Palmer had hated God ever since he lost his father to a heart attack at age seven.
“I was just so angry with God,” he testifies on a Billy Graham Evangelistic Association video on YouTube.
George Palmer’s father died in Western Australia after planting 100 cherry trees. He had a heart attack and was rushed to the hospital, but doctors couldn’t save him.
“I’ll never forget when I was told that my dad had died, I just couldn’t handle that,” George remembers. “I remember going up to the top paddock, and I screamed at God.
“I hate you. I hate you with all my heart. I will never love.”
The anger grew in his heart. He was a troublemaker in school and in the neighborhood. People knew him by his bad reputation and this reinforced his growing bitterness.
“I was always told I would amount to nothing. If you tell a person that continually, that’s what you believe, that you’re worthless, you’re useless.”
In his youth, he led a violent gang that harmed many others and clashed with rivals. “I had a vile temper,” he says.
One day, after beating their rivals in a street fight, George and his nine associates captured the rival gang leader and, subduing him, drove a car over his hand backwards and forwards, crushing every bone in his hand.
“It’s all I ever thought of, hurting people,” he says.
That’s when he and his boys heard that Billy Graham was coming in 1959 to preach across Australia. They hated Christianity and God.
“Billy Graham stood for something I detested,” George says. “It was something that drove me day by day.”
They planned to attend the crusade in Melbourne, determined to kill the internationally famous evangelist.
“I made up 10 zip guns, so each member had one of those,” he says. “I said to the guys, ‘Come on. We’re going on the green. We spaced ourselves so that we could see each other around where Billy Graham was preaching.
“We decided that…during the appeal, we would kill Billy Graham.”
They clutched their zip guns — homemade guns — and eyed each other as the message prolonged. The appeal would inevitably come, a chance for people to leave their seats in the stadium and come to the front and accept Jesus.
As they waited tensely through the message, George looked at the masses of people cramming the cricket stadium. It seemed strange to him that so many people would want to hear the Word of God.
“What the dickens are all these people doing here?” he wondered.
Then a voice spoke to him.
What are you doing here, George?
He turned around. There was no one there.
This unnerved George.
“Ok, I know this is You, God,” he said in his head. “You took my dad. You hurt me so much. Why should I love you? Why should I care about you?”
God spoke to him once more: George, I didn’t take your dad to hurt you. I would never hurt you.
George hadn’t cried since he was 7 years old. He began blubbering.
As the appeal came, George set his zip gun down on the grass and ran to the front to accept Jesus.
“Nine out of the 10 of us got converted that night. We were all a blubbering mess.”
Since 1967, George has worked with the Salvation Army.
“God took this person who hated Him with every part of his being, and God loved him. It’s amazing how God can take a situation like we were in and change a life completely. I thank Him every day for that.”
If you want to know more about a personal relationship with God, go here
Cece Hang’andu studies at the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica.