BILLY GRAHAM MINISTRIES
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Reverend Graham of Billy Graham Ministries has preached the Gospel to more people in live audiences than anyone else in history.
Nearly 215 million people in more than 185 countries through various meetings, including Mission World and Global Mission.
Hundreds of millions more have been reached through television, video, film, and webcasts by Billy Graham Ministries.
Pastor Graham born William Franklin Graham, Jr, on November 7, 1918, is an evangelist and an Evangelical Christian. He has been a spiritual adviser to multiple U.S. presidents and was number seven on Gallup's list of admired people for the 20th century.
He is a member of the Southern Baptist Convention. Graham has preached in person to more people around the world than anyone who has ever lived. As of 1993, more than 2.5 million people had stepped forward at his crusades to "accept Jesus Christ as their personal saviour." As of 2002, Billy Graham Ministries audience, including radio and television broadcasts, topped two billion.
Born on a dairy farm near Charlotte, North Carolina, Billy Graham was raised in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church by his parents, Morrow Coffey and William Franklin Graham. In 1933, when Prohibition in the United States ended, Graham's father forced Graham and his sister Catherine to drink beer until they threw up, which created a lifelong aversion, in both of them, to alcohol.
evangelist Billy Graham was converted in 1934 during a series of revival meetings in Charlotte which were led by evangelist Mordecai Ham. However, he was turned down for membership in a local youth group because he was "too worldly." He was persuaded to go see Ham at the urging of a local African-American who worked at the Graham farm.
After graduating from Sharon High School in May 1936, Graham attended Bob Jones College (now Bob Jones University), then located in Cleveland, Tennessee, for one semester but found it too legalistic in both coursework and rules. At this time he was influenced and inspired by Pastor Charley Young from Eastport Bible Church. He was almost expelled, but Bob Jones, Sr. warned him not to throw his life away: "At best, all you could amount to would be a poor country Baptist preacher somewhere out in the sticks... You have a voice that pulls. God can use that voice of yours. He can use it mightily."
In 1937, Graham transferred to the Florida Bible Institute (now Trinity College of Florida) on the site of today's Florida College in Temple Terrace, Florida. In his autobiography he writes that he "received his calling on the 18th green of the Temple Terrace Golf and Country Club", which is immediately in front of today's Sutton Hall at Florida College in Temple Terrace.
A Reverend Billy Graham Memorial Park is today located on the Hillsborough River directly east of the 18th green and across from where Graham often paddled a canoe to a little island in the river where he would preach to the birds, alligators, and cypress stumps.
Graham eventually graduated from Wheaton College in Illinois with a degree in anthropology, in 1943. It was during his time at Wheaton that Graham decided to take the Bible as the infallible Word of God. Henrietta Mears of the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood was instrumental in helping Graham wrestle with the issue, which was settled at Forest Home Christian camp (now called Forest Home Ministries) southeast of the Big Bear area in Southern California. A memorial there marks the site of Graham's decision.
In 1943, evangelist Billy Graham married Wheaton classmate Ruth Bell (1920–2007), whose parents were Presbyterian missionaries in China, where her father, L. Nelson Bell, was a general surgeon.
“I saw her walking down the road towards me and I couldn’t help but stare at her as she walked. She looked at me and our eyes met and I felt that she was definitely the woman I wanted to marry.” Ruth thought that he "wanted to please God more than any man I'd ever met." They married two months after graduation and later lived in a log cabin designed by Ruth in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Montreat, North Carolina.
Ruth died on June 14, 2007, at age 87. They have five children Virginia (Gigi) Graham Foreman, Anne Graham Lotz, who runs AnGeL ministries, Ruth Dienert, Franklin Graham, who administers his international relief organization called Samaritan's Purse and will be the successor at Billy Graham Ministries and Ned Graham, who runs East Gates International, which distributes Christian literature in China. Pastor Graham has 19 grandchildren and 28 great-grandchildren.
While still a seminarian at Wheaton College, Graham was ordained a Southern Baptist minister in 1939 and served briefly as pastor of the Village Church in western Springs, Illinois, not far from Wheaton, in 1943-44. While there, a friend of Graham's, Torrey Johnson, pastor of the Midwest Bible Church in Chicago, told Graham that his radio program "Songs in the Night" was about to be canceled for lack of funding.
Consulting with the members of his church in Western Springs, Graham decided to take over Johnson's program with financial support from his parishioners.
Launching the new and revitalized radio program on January 2, 1944, still called "Songs in the Night," Graham recruited the baritone George Beverly Shea as his director of radio ministry. While the radio ministry continued for many years, Graham decided to move on in early 1945.
He served as president of Northwestern College in Minnesota in 1948, and at age 30 was (and still is) the youngest person to serve as a sitting college president.
in the armed forces, but shortly after applying for a commission he came down with a severe case of mumps that ended that plan. After a period of recuperation in Florida, Graham went on to co-found Youth for Christ with evangelist Charles Templeton.
He traveled throughout the United States and Europe as an evangelist. Unlike many evangelists then and now, Graham had little formal theological training and he turned down offers to attend Princeton Theological Seminary.
Pastor Graham scheduled a series of revival meetings in Los Angeles in 1949. He erected a series of circus tents in a parking lot. The missions went on for eight weeks after being originally scheduled for only three weeks. The Los Angeles revival is considered to be the time when Billy Graham Ministries became national.
This is because Graham received assistance from powerful news mogul William Randolph Hearst, whose interest in Graham is a mystery, the two never met. Most observers believe that Hearst appreciated Graham's patriotism, appeals to youth, and thought that Graham would be helpful in promoting his conservative anti-communist views.
Hearst sent a telegram to his newspaper editors reading "Puff Graham" during a Billy Graham Ministries 1949 Los Angeles crusade. The result of the increased media exposure from Hearst's newspaper chain and national magazines caused the crusade event to run for eight weeks—five weeks longer than planned. Henry Luse put him on the cover of TIME in 1954.
a fellow evangelist accused Billy Graham Ministries of setting religion back 100 years. Graham replied, "I did indeed want to set religion back, not just 100 years but 1,900 years, to the Book of Acts, when first century followers of Christ were accused of turning the Roman Empire upside down."
Graham was offered a five-year, $5 million contract from NBC to appear on television opposite Arthur Godfrey, but he turned it down in favor of continuing his touring revivals. Billy Graham Ministries had missions in London which lasted 12 weeks and a New York City mission in Madison Square Garden in 1957 which ran nightly for 16 weeks. He also led his first crusade in Australia in 1959.
Graham served as the president of Northwestern College in Minnesota from 1948 to 1952. Billy Graham Ministries founded the Evangelistic Association in 1950, headquartered in Minneapolis. The association later relocated to Charlotte, North Carolina. BGEA Ministries have included:
Hour of Decision, a weekly radio program broadcast around the world for over 50 years
Billy Graham Ministries Mission television specials which are regularly broadcast in prime time in almost every market in the U.S. and Canada
A newspaper column, My Answer, carried by newspapers across the United States
Decision magazine, the official publication of the Association
Founded Christianity Today in 1956 with Carl F. H. Henry as its first editor
Passageway.org, the teen website of the Billy Graham Ministries
World Wide Pictures, which has produced and distributed over 130 productions
during the 1960s and Graham refused to speak to segregated auditoriums, once dramatically tearing down the ropes that organizers had erected to separate the audience. Graham said, "There is no scriptural basis for segregation. ... The ground at the foot of the cross is level, and it touches my heart when I see whites standing shoulder to shoulder with blacks at the cross."
Billy Graham Ministries paid bail money to secure the release of Martin Luther King, Jr., from jail during the 1960s civil rights struggle. Graham invited King to join him in the pulpit at his 16-week revival in New York City in 1957.
During that 16-week stint, Billy Graham Ministries was heard by 2.3 million listeners, who gathered to hear Graham at Madison Square Garden, Yankee Stadium and Times Square. King and Graham became friends, with Graham becoming one of the few whites to call King by his birth name "Mike."
During the Cold War, Billy Graham Ministries became the first to speak behind the Iron Curtain, addressing large crowds in countries throughout Eastern Europe and in the Soviet Union, calling for peace.
During the Apartheid era, evangelist Billy Graham consistently refused to visit South Africa until its government finally allowed attending audiences to sit desegregated. His first crusade there was in 1973, during which he openly denounced apartheid.
Billy Graham Ministries attracted an audience of one million to a single service. He appeared in China in 1988—for Ruth, this was a homecoming since she had been born in China to missionary parents. He appeared in North Korea in 1992.
On September 14, 2001, in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, Dr. Graham led a prayer and remembrance service at Washington National Cathedral attended by President George W. Bush and past and present leaders. He similarly spoke at the memorial service following the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.
On June 24, 2005, Billy Graham Ministries began what Graham said would be his last North American crusade, at Flushing Meadows Park in New York City. But on the weekend of March 11-March 12, 2006 Billy Graham Ministries held the "Festival of Hope" with, Franklin Graham. The festival was held in New Orleans, which was recovering from Hurricane Katrina.
Pastor Graham said that his planned retirement was because of his failing health. He has suffered from Parkinson's disease for about 15 years, has had fluid on the brain, pneumonia, broken hips, and it has been recently revealed that he is suffering from prostate cancer.
In August 2005, a frail Graham appeared at the groundbreaking for the Billy Graham library in Charlotte, North Carolina. Then 86, the Rev. Graham used a walker to get around during the ceremony. On July 9, 2006, Graham spoke at the Metro Maryland Franklin Graham Festival, held in Baltimore, Maryland, at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
On August 18, 2007, Graham, 88, was in fair condition in Mission Health & Hospitals in Asheville, North Carolina, after treatment for intestinal bleeding, but his condition was not life-threatening.
to live audiences of nearly 215 million people in more than 185 countries and territories through various meetings including Mission World and Global Mission. Billy Graham Ministries has also reached hundreds of millions more through television, video, film, and web casts.
Billy Graham Ministries has conducted over 41 evangelistic crusades since 1948. Pastor Graham began this form of ministry in 1947 and continued until recently. He would rent a large venue, such as a stadium, park, or street. He had a group of up to 5,000 people to sing in a choir and then preached the gospel and invited people to come forward.
These people, called inquirers, were then given the opportunity to speak one-on-one with a counselor who clarified any questions the inquirer may have had and would pray with that person. The inquirers were often given some resources such as a Gospel of John or Bible study booklet. In Moscow in 1992, one-fourth of the 155,000 in his audience came forward upon his request.
Politically, Billy Graham has been a registered member of the Democratic Party and leaned Republican during the presidency of his friend Richard Nixon. He has not completely allied himself with the religious right, saying that Jesus did not have a political party. He does not openly endorse political candidates, but he has given his support to some over the years.
Billy Graham Ministries refused to join Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority in 1979, Graham saying: "I'm for morality, but morality goes beyond sex to human freedom and social justice. We as clergy know so very little to speak with authority on the Panama Canal or superiority of armaments. Evangelists cannot be closely identified with any particular party or person. We have to stand in the middle in order to preach to all people, right and left. I haven't been faithful to my own advice in the past. I will be in the future."
"For Graham, politics is a secondary to the Gospel... When Newsweek asked Graham whether ministers — whether they think of themselves as evangelists, pastors or a bit of both — should spend time engaged with politics, he replied: 'You know, I think in a way that has to be up to the individual as he feels led of the Lord. A lot of things that I commented on years ago would not have been of the Lord, I'm sure, but I think you have some—like communism, or segregation, on which I think you have a responsibility to speak out.'"
Graham has had a personal audience with every sitting United States President since Harry Truman. He visited in the Oval Office with Truman in 1950, urging Truman to counter communism in North Korea. However, Graham and his accompanying pastors were not aware of Washington protocol; they appeased the press corps waiting outside with details of the visit, with the three pastors even acquiescing to the calls of the press to kneel on the White House lawn, as if praying.
This led to Truman calling Graham a "counterfeit" publicity seeker, and Truman did not speak to Graham for years afterward. Graham has often told the story, usually as a warning that he would not reveal his conversations with world leaders.
Graham became a regular in the Oval Office during the tenure of Dwight Eisenhower, who he urged to intervene with federal troops in the case of the Little Rock Nine, and it was at that time, on a Washington golf course, that he met and became close friends with Vice-President Richard Nixon.
Eisenhower asked to see Graham on his deathbed. Graham also counseled Lyndon B. Johnson, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and the Bush family.
The single notable exception among modern presidents is John F. Kennedy, with whom Graham golfed. Graham enjoyed a friendship with Nixon and prominently supported him over Kennedy in the 1960 presidential election.
"I have often told friends that when you went into the ministry, politics lost one of its potentially greatest practitioners." Graham spent the last night of Johnson's presidency in the White House, and he stayed for the first night of Nixon's.
After Nixon's victorious 1968 presidential campaign, Graham was an adviser, visiting the White House and leading some of the private church services that the President organized there.
Nixon offered Graham the ambassadorship to Israel in a meeting they had with Golda Meir, but Graham turned down Nixon's offer. Nixon appeared at one of Billy Graham Ministries revivals in East Tennessee in 1970. The event drew one of the largest crowds to ever gather in Tennessee.
Nixon became the first President to give a speech from an evangelist's platform. However, their friendship became strained when Graham rebuked Nixon for his post-Watergate behavior and the profanity heard on the Watergate tapes. They eventually reconciled after Nixon's resignation. Evangelist Billy Graham announced at that time, "I'm out of politics."
After a special law was passed on his behalf, Billy Graham Ministries was allowed to conduct the first religious service on the steps of the Capitol building in 1952. When Graham was hospitalized briefly in 1976, three Presidents called in one day to wish him well: former President Nixon, current President Ford and President-Elect Carter.
at his inauguration and gave the benediction at George H. W. Bush's inauguration. He stayed at the White House the night before George H.W. Bush (who called Graham "America's Pastor") launched the Persian Gulf War. Two days before the 2000 presidential election, Graham spoke at a prayer breakfast in Florida with George W. Bush in attendance but did not officially endorse him. At a New York revival in 2005, Bill Clinton recalled how he had attended Graham's revival as a boy in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1959.
Graham has also spoken at one presidential funeral and one presidential burial. Graham presided over the graveside services for President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1973 and took part in eulogizing the former President with former Texas Democratic Governor John Connally, an LBJ protégé and fellow Texan who was wounded in the assassination that made LBJ president.
Graham also spoke at Connally's funeral and the funeral of former First Lady Pat Nixon within one week of each other in June 1993. Billy Graham Ministries also spoke at the funeral of Richard Nixon in 1994. Graham was unable to officiate the state funeral of Ronald Reagan on June 11, 2004, because of recent double hip replacement surgery, which former President George H.W. Bush acknowledged during his eulogy. Graham had been Reagan's first choice.
Because Graham was hospitalized, Rev. John Danforth, a Missouri Republican Senator during Reagan's tenure, officiated the funeral. Failing health prevented Rev. Graham from officiating at the state funeral of former President Gerald R. Ford in Washington D.C., on January 2, 2007, as well as the funeral of former First Lady Lady Bird Johnson in July 2007.
Billy Graham has been outspoken against communism and supportive of U.S. cold War policy, including the Vietnam War. However, in a 1999 speech, Graham discussed his relationship with the late North Korean dictator Kim Il Sung, praising him as a "different kind of communist" and "one of the great fighters for freedom in his country against the Japanese."
Graham went on to note that although he had never met Kim's son and current North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il, he had "exchanged gifts with him." Graham has given a globe surmounted with doves to the North Korean Friendship Museum.
of Billy Graham Ministries Long Island, New York crusade. Graham said in reference to the war, "As our President, President Bush, has said, it is not the people of Iraq we are at war with. It is some of the people in that regime. Pray for peace in the middle east, a just peace."
"In a speech January 16, 1991, Billy Graham declared: "There come times when we have to fight for peace." He went on to say that out of the present war in the Gulf may "come a new peace and, as suggested by the President, a new world order."" (March 1991 CIB Bulletin)"
Until releasing a June 13, 2007 press release saying he and his wife would be buried alongside each other at the Billy Graham Library in his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina, there had been controversy over where the burial place would be. Graham's younger son Ned had argued with older son Franklin about whether burial at a library was appropriate.
Ruth Graham had said she did not want to be buried in Charlotte but in the mountains near Asheville, North Carolina, where she had lived for many years; Ned supported his mother's choice. Novelist Patricia Cornwell, a family friend, also opposed burial at the library, calling it a tourist attraction. Franklin wanted his parents to be buried at the library site.
Billy Graham Ministries has continually received many honors in surveys, including "Greatest Living American" and consistently ranking among the top admired people in America and the world. Between 1950 and 1990, he appeared on Gallup's list of most admired people more than anyone else. The United States Postal Service has said that Graham is one of the few Americans, along with the current President, who will be delivered mail that simply reads his name and the country: "Billy Graham, America."
from the United States Congress and the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Reagan, America's highest civilian honors. The Congressional Gold Medal was given to him in a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol Building in 1996, presented by President Bill Clinton and Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole. In December 2001, he was presented with an honorary knighthood, Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE), for his international contributions to civic and religious life over 60 years.
In 1971, Graham's hometown of Charlotte held "Billy Graham Day," at which President Nixon made an appearance. On May 30, 1999, Graham was invited to give the pre-race invocation at the Indianapolis 500. On May 31, 2007, the $27 million Billy Graham Library was officially dedicated in Charlotte.
Graham was present along with former Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. A highway in Charlotte also bears Graham's name. In addition, in 1986, Graham was given North Carolina's highest honor, the North Carolina Award, for public service.
In 2000, Former First Lady Nancy Reagan presented the Ronald Reagan Freedom Award to Rev. Graham. Graham has been a friend of the Reagans for years.
He has received the Big Brother of the Year Award for his work on behalf of the welfare of children. He has been cited by the George Washington Carver Memorial Institute for his contributions to race relations. He has received the Templeton Foundation Prize for Progress in Religion and the Sylvanus Thayer Award for his commitment to "Duty, Honor, Country." The "Billy Graham Children's Health Center" in Asheville is named after and funded by Billy Graham Ministries.
In 1971, he received an award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews; after the Nixon tapes appeared, Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League called for Graham to return the award. He was honored by the American Jewish Committee with its National Interreligious Award for his efforts on behalf of Jewish-Christian relations; the committee called him one of the century's greatest Christian friends of Jews.
for that, Graham was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1999 by the Gospel Music Association. A professorial chair is named after him at the Southern Baptist Samford University, the Billy Graham Professor of Evangelism and Church Growth. His alma mater Wheaton College hosts his papers at the Billy Graham Ministries Center. The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth. Graham has received 20 honorary degrees and refused at least that many more.
Mr. Graham has written 27 books, many of which have become top sellers. Of his books, “Approaching Hoofbeats: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” (1983) was listed for several weeks on The New York Times best seller list; “How to Be Born Again” (1977) had the largest first printing in publishing history with 800,000 copies; “Angels: God’s Secret Agents” (1975) sold one million copies within 90 days; and “The Jesus Generation” (1971) sold 200,000 copies in the first two weeks.
In 1990, the band The Swirling Eddies gave homage to Billy Graham Ministries with its song "Billy Graham" on the album Outdoor Elvis.