Local pastor reflects on influence Billy Graham had on pursuing faith

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COLFAX, N.C. -- Sometimes our path is chosen for us, and for Clay Cook, a big influence on realizing his path was Billy Graham.

"I think God chose me to be a minister a long time before I made that decision," Cook said.

Cook was living in Charlotte when he decided to go to one of Graham's famous crusades in the Queen City.

"It was like going to church except it was like walking on holy ground," Cook said.

From that moment on, Cook was hooked. He says he kept wanting to hear more of what Graham was preaching. Cook followed him to Raleigh and was even selected to participate as a counselor during a crusade in Norfolk, Virginia. What he appreciated most was Graham's ability to cut through crowds of thousands to reach you.

"I'm talking to you as an individual and I want you to become a Christian, I want you to give your life," Cook said.

Cook in turn became a pastor at Colfax Baptist Church for three years in the 70s and later would help start a church in Pinehurst. He says Graham had a charisma and a personality that inspired him to spread the word of God.

"You can't put your finger on one thing and say this is why I liked him or why I liked to hear him because it was so much of a multitude of things that the man was," Cook said. "The man was just a terrific speaker and he could take the Bible and make it speak to you."