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Exclusive: Reverend Phil McClendon Shares His Personal Connection With Reverend Billy Graham

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     The man considered to be the world's best-known evangelist...the Reverend Billy Graham...died this morning at the age of 99.
     He reached millions of people through his crusades.
     And one of his crusaders...is a long-time Joplin preacher.
Reverend Phil McClendon met Reverend Billy Graham at a crusade back in 1973.
McClendon: "Meeting him was like a divine appointment, the guy traded sections with me and you know, when something happens in your life, it's usually for a purpose."
McClendon met with graham in a dressing room area, and once he entered the room, he felt humbled.
McClendon: "At that time it was almost like being in the room with God to me, because I respected him so much."
McClendon says Reverend Graham was a significant inspiration in his life.
This photo was taken in 1992 in Moscow, when McClendon was asked to come to a crusade there.
He had an opportunity to speak with graham again and feel the power of his presence.
McClendon: "It was one of the great times for Russia, because they were no longer under Communism, and so many people then were receiving Christ."
I asked reverend McClendon how he first reacted when he heard of Graham's passing.
McClendon: "That's an overwhelming question you give, because I was thinking about it, why am I in tears here?  And it's probably because I did meet him."
He says if he didn't have that encounter all those years ago, he would still be inspired by Graham, but actually meeting him, had a much bigger impact.
McClendon: "As I reflect upon his life, I look at his character, his influence, his integrity, from different problems that ministers face today and organizations face, his integrity was always there."
McClendon says that America, lost someone special.
McClendon: "Well there's an empty seat in America today, and even though he's been ill for a number of years, we still feel that empty seat."

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Chris Warner
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A Joplin native, Chris first started in broadcasting at age 16 at KSNF-TV in 2004..

Chris joined the KOAM team in 2017 as an Associate Producer. In April, he moved into a full-time reporter position. He spent time from 2008 to 2016 in various retail roles around the region before returning to his passion at KOAM. Chris is excited to continue telling the stories of the four states. Chris and his wife Amber live in Joplin and have three amazing children.

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