In the years to come, whenever Billy had a major decision to make, he would call Prexy. Edman would give no direct advice but would tell Billy, “Do what the Lord tells you to do.” Then they would pray about it. When Graham found himself in the midst of controversy, Edman stayed by his side and encouraged him with the words, “Billy, pay no attention. You have only one Person to please, and that’s the Lord.” Edman became one of the charter board members of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and brought wisdom and good counsel to the board. Edman always adjourned the board meetings early saying with a smile, “You cannot accomplish anything after nine o’clock.” That was in part because he was an early riser who met the Lord in prayer in the wee hours of the morning.
Billy Graham has noted that as he traveled the world he would meet people who told him how they had been positively influenced by Raymond Edman. He writes, “We will never know the full evaluation of his life and ministry until we stand at the judgment seat of Christ, but still I have to say that he was the most unforgettable Christian I ever met.”13
In the Presence of the King
In 1965 Dr. Edman passed the baton of the Wheaton presidency to his former Wheaton student, now proven leader, who was also a friend of Uncle Joe: Hudson T. Armerding. Edman was promoted to the position of chancellor so that he could continue to represent Wheaton, albeit with a lighter load. He was also elected as the senior vice president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
On September 22, 1967, Chancellor Edman stood before the Wheaton College faculty and students to give a chapel message titled “In the Presence of the King.” The 1960s were turbulent times, as the Vietnam War raged. Students on the Wheaton campus were struggling with how to make sense of it all. Edman knew that what Christians in Wheaton and elsewhere needed was a return to seeking a daily audience with the King of kings.
In Edman’s commitment to follow God anywhere, he had developed relationships with world leaders such as Madame Chiang Kai-shek, President Richard Nixon, and His Majesty Haile Selassie of Ethiopia. He began his chapel message by telling of an invitation he received to enter the throne room of King Selassie. He described the protocol and respect required to enter into the king’s presence. Then Edman stated,
But I speak primarily of another King. This chapel is the house of the King. Chapel is designed to be a meeting on your part with the King of kings and the Lord of lords Himself. To that end, chapel is designed for the purpose of worship… not a lecture, not an entertainment, but a time of meeting the King. Coming in, sit down and wait in silence before the Lord. In so doing, you will prepare your own hearts to hear the Lord, to meet with the King. Your heart will learn to cultivate what the Scripture says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Over these years I have learned the immense value of that deep, inner silence as David, the king, sat in God’s presence to hear from him.14
Those were V. Raymond Edman’s last words on earth as he turned, collapsed on stage and entered the presence of the King of kings whom he had served so long and well.
Dr. V. Raymond Edman, husband, father, friend, soldier, missionary, pastor, professor, mentor, devotional writer, college president and chancellor, was first and foremost a disciple of Jesus Christ. In his book They Found the Secret, Edman noticed a common pattern that is lived out by mature disciples of Jesus:
The pattern seems to be self-centeredness, self-effort, increasing dissatisfaction and outer discouragement, a temptation to give it all up because there is no better way, and then finding the Spirit of God to be their strength, their guide, their confidence and companion—in a word, their life. The crisis of the deeper life is the key that unlocks the secret of their transformation. It is the beginning of the exchanged life. What is the exchanged life? Really it is not some thing; it is some One. It is the indwelling of the Lord Jesus Christ made real and rewarding by the Holy Spirit.15
Victor Raymond Edman found the secret. And so can we.
Joel S. Woodruff, Ed.D., Vice President of Discipleship & Outreach, has worked in education, “tent-making,” nonprofit administration, and pastoral ministry in Alaska, Israel, Hungary, France, and Virginia. He served as a Dean and professor at European Bible Institute, and worked for Oakwood Services International before coming to CSLI. He has a B.A from Wheaton College, M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University.
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