Remembering Billy Graham on the 104th Anniversary of His Birth

Remembering Billy Graham on the 104th Anniversary of His Birth

When dairy farmer William Franklin “Frank” Graham and his wife, Morrow, welcomed their first child into the world on Nov. 7, 1918, it would have been reasonable to assume that the boy would one day take over the family farm in Charlotte, North Carolina.

But God had a different plan for Billy Graham, and the lives of millions around the world have been eternally changed as a result.

According to official Crusade statistics, between 1947 and 2005, more than 3.2 million people responded to the Gospel invitation at Billy Graham’s Crusades. Countless more came to know Jesus Christ through Billy Graham telecasts, radio broadcasts, World Wide Pictures films, books, Decision magazine and other ministries.

Among the millions who look back with gratitude for Billy Graham’s leading them to Christ are:

  • The 14-year-old girl who had been singing in the choir during Mr. Graham’s 1964 Boston Crusade. She decided that on the final night, she was going to go forward and put her faith in Jesus Christ. But upon arriving, she found that Boston Garden was already full and no one else was being allowed inside, even if they were in the choir. Desperate, she circled the building, woke a man sleeping in the alley and convinced him to hoist her up to a fire escape ladder. She scaled it, lowered herself into the building through a skylight and dropped down—right next to a security guard. He realized her desperation and allowed her to stay. That evening, she gave her life to Jesus Christ.
  • The 16-year-old who felt “only emptiness and deep loneliness” and “had no reason to live.” But his father would often arrange showings of World Wide Pictures films, and one day the teen was with his father for a showing of “The Restless Ones.” He had seen the film so often that he knew the dialogue by heart. But this time, he said, Billy Graham’s words “cut through to the deepest part of my being.” Back home afterward, he locked himself in his room and committed his life to Jesus Christ.
  • The 8-year-old boy who sat on the couch with his mother watching the telecast of Billy Graham’s 1968 Pittsburgh Crusade. When Billy Graham turned to the TV camera and invited those watching to respond to the Gospel, just as people in the stadium were doing, the boy turned and said, “Mom, I think I need to do that.” She led him in the same prayer Mr. Graham had invited the people to pray.
  • The young man in the Netherlands who heard on the radio just a few seconds of Billy Graham’s sermon from Euro ’70 in Dortmund, Germany. He said later that although his mother turned off the radio, “that one minute of preaching spoke to the depths of my heart.” The following day, he went to the library and found a book, “The Challenge,” by Billy Graham. It contained 10 sermons Mr. Graham had preached during his 1957 Madison Square Garden Crusade. Each sermon ended with an invitation to receive Christ, and when the young man came to the first one, he knelt and received Christ.
  • The illiterate, alcoholic bus driver whose marriage was on the verge of divorce when Billy Graham came to Sydney, Australia, in 1959. The man had been dropping people off at the Crusade for two weeks when he decided one night to go in and listen. “I thought the message was the greatest load of garbage I had ever heard,” he said. But then his wife attended the Crusade and gave her heart to Christ, and four nights later, he accepted an invitation to attend again. “If you asked me to give you a reason why I got into that car that night, I couldn’t tell you,” he said. “But I went out to the Crusade, and I was saved.” In 1961, he sensed God calling him to become a minister. He spent two years learning to read, four years overcoming a speech impediment, two years attending Bible college, four years in theological college and went on to serve as a pastor and evangelist for many years.

Billy Graham’s legacy continues today through the many ministries of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

And today, Nov. 7, news media are invited to tour the new Billy Graham Archive & Research Center in Charlotte, which is set to open officially tomorrow. The state-of-the-art, 30,000 square foot building will be open by appointment to researchers who want to learn more about evangelism by studying the life and ministry of Billy Graham.

“It’s a treasure trove,” said David Bruce, executive vice president of the Billy Graham Archive & Research Center and Billy Graham Library. “For the first time in all these decades, we now have everything related to the historical background of Mr. Graham in one location.”

Photo: Steve Starr/©2003 BGEA

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