By Dana Smith | First Published: December 03, 2014
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association of Canada has launched a new Internet-based initiative designed to gather stories from across Canada of those who came to faith in Jesus Christ through our ministry. Tell us your stories and we will share some of them—with your permission—on our website and in Decision magazine in the coming months.
Matt Baker has one of those stories.
Matt came to faith in Jesus Christ and eventually became a youth pastor after attending a Billy Graham Evangelistic Association of Canada (BGEAC) event. You can read about his faith journey on the following page.
When we learned of the impact our ministry has had on Matt, and on the young men and women he is pastoring, we couldn’t help but wonder how many more stories there are of Canadians whom God has brought to a new or deeper relationship with Jesus Christ through the various initiatives of BGEA.
Tell us your story by going to BillyGraham.ca/yourstory and typing the basic details of how BGEA has impacted your faith in Christ. Those details, plus the contact information you provide, will enable us to call or write you to gather more details to produce a story similar to Matt’s.
‘Punk Kid’ Comes to Faith Through BGEA, Now Leads Youth to Christ
A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.
Just ask Matt Baker, who was among the tens of thousands who attended the 1995 Billy Graham Crusade in Toronto, how true this Proverb is in his life.
When he and some of his friends hopped on a bus 19 years ago for downtown Toronto, Matt had little more on his mind than seeing a live performance of dc Talk—the band pegged by the Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music as “the most popular overtly Christian act of all time.”
Matt made it to the Crusade, and to dc Talk’s performance. But it was Billy Graham’s message that stole the show for the self-proclaimed “punk kid who did drugs” back then.
“God loves you so much. He loves you so much that He has done everything in His power to save you,” Mr. Graham said during that pivotal sermon in Matt’s young life. “He’s brought you here today.”
About 73,500 people came to the Crusade at Skydome—now the Rogers Centre—with thousands more listening from outside the stadium.
“I knew I had to do something that night,” Matt recalls. “I just remember the call and Mr. Graham saying, ‘If you want to receive Christ as your Savior, stand up.’”
Matt rose to his feet and began a new direction that night by accepting Christ as his Savior.
“It took me a little bit to get past my fear, but I just remember Mr. Graham hitting the point that God loves you.”
Matt now dedicates his life to bringing junior and senior high school students to a deeper relationship with Christ in his role as youth pastor at Southside Worship Centre in the Toronto suburb of Ajax.
He also oversees a community food bank and the more than 20 volunteers who serve there.
Matt’s story came full circle in September, when he volunteered at the 2014 Greater Toronto Festival of Hope with Franklin Graham—serving as a member of the Student Leadership Team. He brought his youth group and some of their non-Christian friends to the Sept. 12-14 event at Air Canada Centre, and was thrilled when several responded to Franklin Graham’s invitation to dedicate their lives to Christ.
“When Franklin gave the call, some of my students went down, and I was praying for them,” Matt said, following the Festival. “Who knows what they’re going to do? The next time the Festival comes, maybe they’re going to be the youth pastor bringing kids!” D ©2014 BGEA
That’s Matt’s story. We look forward to reading yours. Don’t worry if it doesn’t seem quite so dramatic, or detailed. Just visit BillyGraham.ca/yourstory, type out some basics, provide your contact information, and send it to us.