On Feb. 21, 2018, the man affectionately known as “America’s Pastor” died at 99 years old. Billy Graham left a singular legacy among Christian preachers, having passionately preached saving faith in Jesus Christ to some 215 million people in nine different decades, beginning as a college student in 1937.
Before hundreds of packed stadiums and mass television audiences during that medium’s heyday, the Reverend Billy Graham became a household name.
In 2021, his ministry continues through the work of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), which directs a host of evangelistic endeavors, using “every effective means available” and “by equipping the church and others to do the same.” BGEA initiatives include:
- The Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina, where every visitor hears a clear Gospel message and has an opportunity to begin a saving relationship with Jesus Christ
- Evangelistic Crusades with Franklin Graham, Will Graham and BGEA associate evangelists
- The ministry of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team as chaplains share the Gospel during natural and manmade crises around the globe
- Ongoing web, multimedia and broadcast media projects
In 2015, Mr. Graham preached his last recorded message during the filming of the BGEA-produced video “The Cross,” which was shown online and in hundreds of churches.
“Our country is in great need of a spiritual awakening,” Mr. Graham said in the video, reflecting on the message of the cross of Jesus Christ.
“Of all the things that I’ve seen and heard, there’s only one message that can change people’s lives and hearts,” Mr. Graham said. “I want to tell people about the meaning of the cross. Not the cross that hangs on a wall or around someone’s neck, but the real cross of Christ. It’s scarred and bloodstained. His was a rugged cross. I know that many will react to this message, but it is the truth. And with all my heart, I want to leave you with the truth. He loves you, [and is] willing to forgive you of all your sins. The cross is offensive because it confronts people. Even so, it’s a confrontation that all of us must face.”
The reality that every soul will face judgment—and be rewarded with either eternal life with God by faith in Jesus Christ, or eternal separation from God for rejecting Him—moved Billy Graham to preach a simple Gospel message with power and passion around the world.
At the Billy Graham Library, where more than a million visitors have come since it opened in 2007, the “Journey of Faith” tells the story of Mr. Graham’s upbringing on a dairy farm; his conversion to Christ as a teenager at a citywide revival meeting; his call to preach the Gospel; and his long and influential ministry. It ends with a clear presentation of Jesus Christ’s saving work on the cross—which has resulted in many visitors leaving the grounds knowing for the first time where they will spend eternity.
With the advent of digital media and the internet, BGEA began engaging people with the Gospel message online. Since 2011, more than 16.4 million people have indicated decisions for Christ after seeing detailed online presentations of the Gospel through BGEA’s internet evangelism ministry. Evangelistic web pages are available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, Mandarin, Arabic and American Sign Language.
On the final night of Mr. Graham’s last Crusade, in June 2005 in New York City, he told the large crowd, “When we die, we’re going to be divided. Some will be eternally lost, some eternally saved. We are saved through Jesus, if we put our faith in Him.”
Eventually, everyone will face that same decision—to place our faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, or to reject Him in favor of our own way. “Then by faith,” Mr. Graham preached, “receive Jesus, who died on the cross for you. Open your heart and say, ‘Yes, Lord Jesus, come in. I’m ready to follow You.”
Photo: Russ Busby/©1993 BGEA