How movie legend inspired one of the world’s best-loved gospel songs
By Charles Gardner, Special to ASSIST News Service
LOS ANGELES, CA (ANS – September 26, 2017) — Legendary movie star John Wayne is reputed to have inspired one of the world’s best-loved gospel songs: It is no secret, what God can do.
Singer-songwriter and radio broadcaster Stuart Hamblen turned his back on a hard-drinking, womanizing lifestyle after committing himself to Christ through the influence of evangelist Billy Graham in 1949 at Mr. Graham’s historic Los Angeles tent crusade.
And it was shortly afterwards that they met on Hollywood Boulevard, and he got talking to Wayne, who then asked him about the rumors that had been circulating about him.
Stuart replied: “Well, it’s no secret what God has done for people, and what he’s done for other people he can do for anyone.”
To which Wayne responded: “Sounds like a song coming on to me!”
A few days later, as midnight approached, the clock started to chime. And sitting at his Hammond organ, Stuart Hamblen wrote:
The chimes of time ring out the news, another day is through
Someone slipped and fell, was that someone you?
You may have longed for added strength, your courage to renew
Do not be disheartened, for I have news for you
That was the first verse, which led into the chorus:
It is no secret, what God can do
What he’s done for others he’ll do for you
With arms wide open he’ll pardon you
It is no secret, what God can do
My thanks to Ernie Bridgewood for passing on this inspiring story, originally related by George Beverley Shea, for many years a soloist with the Billy Graham gospel team. (Bev Shea also shared the same story with ANS founder, Dan Wooding, during a radio interview with him.)
Apparently Stuart’s radio programme followed immediately after Graham’s, so they regularly crossed paths and Stuart eventually took up an invitation to Billy’s big crusade meetings in Los Angeles, later visiting him in his hotel room, where the evangelist and his colleague, Cliff Barrows, prayed with him.
Later that night he gave his life to Christ and the news made his mother cry when he phoned her in Texas, for he had been brought up in a Christian home.
It is indeed no secret what God can do — those words are as true today as they were in 1949. God can even turn your hell into heaven.
Another story currently doing the rounds1 in the wake of the ferocious hurricanes hitting America involves a North Carolina church.
Back in 1874 the congregation were after prime property in the main part of the coastal town of Swan Quarter. But the owner adamantly refused to sell, so they reluctantly opted for a less desirable location. And just before the dedication ceremony two years later, a hurricane swept up the coast carrying five feet of water through their community.
To everyone’s amazement, the church began floating down the road, reaching a corner where it bumped into a general store. Then it took a sharp right and headed down another road for two blocks before turning left, crossing a canal and settling on the precise site they had been refused, where it even rotated to face the street, and where it remains to this day. Needless to say, the owner changed his mind and sold them the property.
As the prophet of old wrote, “The Lord’s way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.” (Nahum 1.3)
1Mike Shreve, ASSIST News Service, September 13, 2017
To listen to Willie Nelson’s version of the great gospel song, please go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dapS0Dz3Zk4
Photo captions: 1) Signed photo of John Wayne (http://jeffress.com/). 2) Stuart Hamblen. 3) Advert for Billy Graham’s 1949 crusade in Los Angeles where Hamblen found the Lord. 4) ANS founder, Dan Wooding, with Charles Gardner during a visit to the UK. (Dan now lives in Orange County, California, close to where John Wayne made his home for many years.)
About the writer: Charles Gardner is a veteran Cape Town-born British journalist working on plans to launch a new UK national newspaper reporting and interpreting the news from a biblical perspective. With his South African forebears having had close links with the legendary devotional writer Andrew Murray, Charles is similarly determined to make an impact for Christ with his pen and has worked in the newspaper industry for more than 40 years. Part-Jewish, he is married to Linda, who takes the Christian message around many schools in the Yorkshire town of Doncaster. Charles is also author of Israel the Chosen (Amazon) and Peace in Jerusalem, available from olivepresspublisher.com. He has four children and nine grandchildren, and can be reached by phone on +44 (0) 1302 832987, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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