By BosNewsLife News Center
CHARLOTTE, USA (BosNewsLife)– Cliff Barrows, the longtime music and program director for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) who accompanied the famed evangelists for decades, has died after a brief illness. He was 93. Barrows died Tuesday, November 15, at Carolinas Medical Center-Pineville, the BGEA said.
The two men met in 1945 while Barrows was on his honeymoon, and together they went on to form the association, according to a published biography. Barrows traveled the world with Graham since his first evangelistic gathering, known as a ‘Crusade’ in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1947. The music director also hosted the weekly Hour of Decision radio program for more than 60 years.
At Graham’s 95th birthday party in November 2013, the evangelist singled out his longtime associate, Barrows, who led the hymns at the Crusades. “I want to thank you for all you meant to me over all these years.”
Barrows regularly led thousands of voices in choirs at Billy Graham Crusades around the world, according to his biography on the BGEA website. He and soloist George Beverly Shea, who died in 2013, were the core of a worship team that helped set the stage for Graham’s preaching.
“The Christian faith is a singing faith, and a good way to express it and share it with others is in community singing,” Barrows said during those years.
George Beverly Shea and Cliff Barrows were the nucleus of the Crusade musical team. They were joined in 1950 by pianist Tedd Smith, and through the years, organists Don Hustad and John Innes provided additional accompaniment.
“I’ve had no greater joy than encouraging people to sing,” said Barrows. “Every great moving of the Spirit of God has been accompanied by great singing. I believe it will always be so!”
For significant contributions to Gospel music, Barrows was inducted into the Nashville Gospel Music Hall of Fame in April 1988, and into the Religious Broadcasting Hall of Fame in February 1996. He was also inducted, along with Billy Graham and soloist George Beverly Shea, into the inaugural class of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists’ “Hall of Faith” in 2008.
“His uncanny ability to lead a Crusade choir of thousands of voices or an audience of a hundred thousand voices in a great hymn or Gospel chorus is absolutely unparalleled,” wrote Billy Graham in his autobiography, ‘Just As I Am’. “But all of that talent is not the secret of Cliff’s effectiveness. It is his humility and his willingness to be a servant, which spring from his devotional life and his daily walk with Christ,” Graham noted.
Barrows was born and reared in Ceres, California. He was married to his first wife, Billie, for nearly 50 years. “Then God brought Mr. Barrows and his second wife, Ann, together following the death of both of their spouses to cancer,” the BGEA said, adding that they made their home together in Marvin, North Carolina.
Barrows had five children: Bonnie, 1948; Robert, 1950; Betty Ruth, 1953; Clifford (Bud), 1955; and William Burton, 1962.