Billy Graham"Billy preached in person to more people than anyone else in history. His evangelistic crusades were held and broadcast around the world."
From a teenager turned down for membership in his local youth group for being “too worldly” and a student who was nearly dismissed from college, Billy Graham rose to become the most revered and effective evangelist of the 20th century.
William Franklin Graham Jr. was born the eldest of four children on November 7, 1918, to William and Morrow Graham in the downstairs bedroom of their farmhouse outside of Charlotte, NC. Billy loved to read; he recalls his favorite stories were about Tarzan.
As a teenager, Billy attended a camp meeting where he heard the gospel clearly and powerfully preached by the evangelist Mordecai Ham. He eagerly gave his life fully to Christ. Two years later, he attended Bob Jones College. During the first semester, he reacted against the rigid legalism taught and practiced at the college. As a result, he was nearly expelled by the college president, who warned him not to throw his life away. “At best,” predicted Bob Jones, Sr., “all you could amount to would be a poor country Baptist preacher somewhere in the sticks” … “God can use that voice of yours. He can use it mightily.”
In 1937, Billy transferred to the Florida Bible Institute in Temple Terrace, FL. In his autobiography, he recorded his “calling (to ministry) on the 18th green of the Temple Terrace Golf and Country Club.” Two years later, he was ordained at the Peniel Baptist Church in Palatka, FL and went on to graduate from Wheaton College.
During his time at Wheaton, Billy came to accept the Bible as the infallible word of God. By graduation, he had developed the preaching style for which he would become universally recognized: a simple, direct, Bible-based message of sin and salvation.
Billy preached in person to more people than anyone else in history. His evangelistic crusades were held and broadcast around the world. His television and radio programs, along with his friendships with presidents and other leaders and celebrities, made him one of the most recognized religious figures of the 20th century.
On February 21, 2018, Billy Graham died at age 99. He became the fourth private citizen, in United States history, to lie in state in the United States Capitol rotunda, and the first religious leader to be so honored.
As Salvationists, our priorities should be in the same vein as Billy Graham. We are to develop a heart for God and a vision for the world, but we also need to understand our personal core values and how those things mold and shape us into who we are today. I pray that, like Billy Graham, your commitment, beliefs and core values are aligned so that through God’s power you are making a difference! If someone came into your corps, what would they see? Would they see the things on your heart evidenced in your life?