William (Billy) F. Graham
"My one purpose in life is to help people find a personal relationship with God, which, I believe, comes through knowing Christ." --Billy Graham
Evangelist Billy Graham took Christ literally when He said in Mark 16:15, “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.”
Mr. Graham has preached the Gospel to more people in live audiences than anyone else in history—nearly 215 million people in more than 185 countries and territories—through various meetings, including Mission World and Global Mission. Hundreds of millions more have been reached through television, video, film, and webcasts.
Since the 1949 Los Angeles Crusade vaulted Mr. Graham into the public eye, he has led hundreds of thousands of individuals to make personal decisions to live for Christ, which is the main thrust of his ministry.
Upbringing And Family And Early Life
Born November 7, 1918, four days before the Armistice ended World War I, Mr. Graham was reared on a dairy farm in Charlotte, North Carolina. Growing up during the Depression, he learned the value of hard work on the family farm, but he also found time to spend many hours in the hayloft reading books on a wide variety of subjects.
In the fall of 1934, at age 15, Mr. Graham made a personal commitment to Christ through the ministry of Mordecai Ham, a traveling evangelist, who visited Charlotte for a series of revival meetings.
Ordained in 1939 by a church in the Southern Baptist Convention, Mr. Graham received a solid foundation in the Scriptures at Florida Bible Institute (now Trinity College in Florida). In 1943 he graduated from Wheaton College in Illinois and married fellow student Ruth McCue Bell, daughter of a missionary surgeon, who spent the first 17 years of her life in China.
After graduating from college, Mr. Graham pastored the First Baptist Church in Western Springs, Illinois, before joining Youth for Christ, an organization founded for ministry to youth and servicemen during World War II. He preached throughout the United States and in Europe in the immediate post war era, emerging as a rising young evangelist.
The Los Angeles Crusade in 1949 launched Mr. Graham into international prominence. Scheduled for three weeks, the meetings were extended to more than eight weeks, with overflow crowds filling a tent erected downtown each night.
Many of his subsequent early Crusades were similarly extended, including one in London which lasted 12 weeks, and a New York City Crusade in Madison Square Garden in 1957 which ran nightly for 16 weeks.
Today, at age 91, Billy Graham and his ministry are known around the globe. He has preached in remote African villages and in the heart of New York City, and those to whom he has ministered have ranged from heads of state to the simple living bushmen of Australia and the wandering tribes of Africa and the Middle East. Since 1977, Mr. Graham has been accorded the opportunity to conduct preaching missions in virtually every country of the former Eastern bloc, including the former Soviet Union.
Mr. Graham founded the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) in 1950, headquartered in Minneapolis, Minn., until relocating to Charlotte, N.C., in 2003. He conducts his ministry through the BGEA, including: • the weekly “Hour of Decision” radio program, broadcast around the world on Sundays for more than 50 years. • television programs that are broadcast on national Christian networks. • a syndicated newspaper column, “My Answer,” which is carried by newspapers both nationally and internationally. • “Decision” magazine, the official publication of the Association, which has a circulation of some 400,000 and is available in English and German versions, with special editions available in Braille and on cassette tape for the visually...