Billy Graham

William Franklin Graham, Jr:  1918-2018

Evangelist, Preacher.


  • Billy’s parents, Frank and Morrow, were members of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church of Charlotte and professed a regenerate faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • He and farm workers heard singing from behind the family barn. “I guess they’re some fanatics that have talked Daddy into using the place,” Billy said. One of the men in attendance, a salesman named Vernon Patterson, prayed that God would raise up someone from Charlotte to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
  • The preacher- Mordechai Ham- claimed to have evidence of immoral behaviour at the local high school. protests were rumoured. And then a friend named Albert McMakin said, “Why don’t you come out and hear our fighting preacher?” Billy liked the idea of a fighter. The deal was clinched when McMakin offered to let Billy drive his dairy truck to the meetings.
  • November 1, six days before his 16th birthday, Billy responded to that invitation. The choir sang four verses of Just As I Am, followed by the hymn Almost Persuaded, Now to Believe.
  • Attended Bob Jones Bible College but felt restless and unclear as to what to do. in 1938, he knelt down on a golf course and yielded his life for the preaching ministry that he believed God was calling him to. He told God he would be what God wanted him to be and go where God wanted him to go.
  • Married Ruth Bell in 1940, having transferred to the Florida Bible Institute and then Wheaton College.
  • 1943 becomes pastor of a small baptist church in Chicago and hosted a Sunday night radio show. There he worked with George Beverley Shea and Cliff Barrows.
  • Became an evangelist with Youth for Christ International. He travelled more than 200,000 miles his first year, missing the birth of his first child.
  • 1949- ran a tent mission in Los Angeles- the local press supported him- 350,000 attended including Hollywood celebrities. 3000 conversions.
  • The Harringay Crusade in 1954 and NYC Crusade in 1957 took something out of him physically.
  • Harringay: invited by the Evangelical Alliance, with most churches and virtually all the press sceptical or hostile. But the 12-week crusade turned out to be hugely successful in terms of numbers, and many would say spiritually successful as well. Numbers for Anglican ministry in London increased considerably.
  • Two million attended the various meetings. There were 36,431 decisions recorded.
  • The percentage of ordinands for Church of England ministry in the London area who identified themselves as evangelicals increased considerably after this period. Remarkably, at the 1966 London Crusade, 52 men who had been converted during the 1954 crusade and had later become Anglican ministers were on the platform with Dr Graham. Whatever the real spiritual impact of Harringay on Britain, the positive impact on the ministry and the reputation of Billy Graham was enormous.
  • New York, 1957: televised, with 6-7 million regularly tuning in.


  • Over 75 years, he preached the Good News of Jesus Christ to nearly 215 million people in more than 185 countries.
  • Received 8000 invitations per year to lead a crusade
  • God’s ambassador, we are told that 83 million attended the crusades (much larger estimates have been given), with 3.2 million responses. Or 3.3%, though estimates vary.
  • His trips to communist countries to preach the gospel began in the 1960s; preached in Moscow in 1992.


  • ‘Crusade Ministry’
  • Invitation or Altar Calls- opposed by many. ‘My gift seems to be from the Lord in giving an appeal to get people to make a decision for Christ. That seems to be the gift. Something happens that I cannot explain. I have never given an invitation in my whole life when no one came’.
  • Sending people back to their own churches- even if they weren’t Bible-believing.
  • From 1957, began to work with some liberal churches- caused a rift with his fundamentalist supporters: ‘I would like to make myself clear. I intend to go anywhere, sponsored by anybody, to preach the gospel of Christ, if there are no strings attached to my message’
  • Contra April 1951: ‘We do not condone nor have fellowship with any form of modernism’
  • What changed him? Meeting good RC and liberal clergymen assured him they were Christians; God blessed Harringay even though liberals were on the platform; his sincere desire to reach more people
  • By the 1960s he lacked a definite position on the creation-evolution question.
  • ‘[By] not making war on some things he has gone to the other extreme, and made peace, not with the doctrines of apostasy, but with those who preach the doctrines of apostasy. This, I believe, is deadly and will one day defeat the whole cause for which this man of God is labouring’. ET
  • Involvement with politicians: if he had it to do over again, ‘I would also avoid any semblance of involvement in partisan politics’.


“Our family Bible reading, praying, psalm-singing and church-going—all these had left me restless and resentful. In a word, I was spiritually dead.”

‘Some Dad you are! You go away and leave us all the time!’ Daughter Gigi to Billy as a child.

‘But, sadly, it is an evangelicalism that is almost certainly weaker and lacking the doctrinal clarity of former generations. This is surely, at least partly, a consequence of the ecumenism which Dr Graham came to model and espouse during his ministry. If men who rejected central doctrines could be embraced as fellow workers, how important were those truths?’ -Dennis Hill

‘He seemed completely unaware of how special he was’. -Ruth Graham

Graham himself:

“The moment we take our last breath on earth, we take our first in heaven.”

“I've read the last page of the Bible, it's all going to turn out all right.”

“The only time my prayers are never answered is on the golf course.”

“World events are moving very rapidly now. I pick up the Bible in one hand, and I pick up the newspaper in the other. And I read almost the same words in the newspaper as I read in the Bible. It’s being fulfilled every day round about us.”



Billy Graham Evangelistic Association 

Roger Fay, writing in the ET

Dennis Hill, Writing in the ET

Photo by Warren K. Leffler - This image is available from the United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID ppmsc.03261. Public Domain,