I was still visiting the Bread of Life every few weeks, mainly to see Bud Cripes. Bud and I would walk across the street to Elliott Bay Bookstore for coffee and a scone. He was a retired mission worker, someone who works and lives in missions as a career, but still came by the Bread of Life one or two days a week to help out. He had worked as a cook and lived at a mission in Indio, California, for years, after sobering up. Then he came to Seattle and worked as a cook at the Bread of Life for nine years until he retired. He was very religious, a born-again Christian.

At one of our coffee sessions Bud told me he was a longtime volunteer for the Billy Graham telephone crusade. The crusade was nationally televised, and Seattle was one of five call-in centers around the country whose phone numbers were continually flashed on the screen during the program. The volunteers, buried in little booths, talked with strangers and “converted” them, using mass technology to spread the word.

The Seattle call-in center was at the North Seattle Church of the Nazarene. The center had one hundred phones set up in the auditorium of the church school and received over two thousand calls a night. Volunteers attended a three-hour training session during which they listened to tapes about helping callers with stress and alcohol problems and learned how to talk with people who threatened to kill themselves. Callers pay for their own phone calls. The longest call Bud ever took lasted one hour and ten minutes. He said the crusade people liked them to keep the calls under five minutes, but he always listened for as long as he needed to, especially if he felt the person was ready for salvation, close to having some kind of conversion experience and to accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior. Bud memorized long passages of scripture so he wouldn’t have to spend time looking them up while he was on the phone. He thought there was a barrier that needed to be broken down before someone could listen to the Lord and that the height of the barrier was directly related to how wrapped up in their own problems people were.