A Century of Faithfulness: The Life of Billy Graham

Graham was the man behind the microphone, the evangelist of our era, the shaker of American Christianity, and one of the church’s most prolific preachers.

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Billy Graham would have turned one hundred this year, which makes me think that God is still blessing His faithful servants with unnaturally long life. Graham was the man behind the microphone, the evangelist of our era, the shaker of American Christianity, and one of the church’s most prolific preachers.

He was born in Charlotte, NC, now the home of the Billy Graham Library. He attended Florida Bible Institute and then Wheaton College. He was already preaching in churches and ordained as a minister at twenty-one years old!

Graham started his evangelistic ministry in the 1940s and embarked on his famous Billy Graham crusades. He traveled to dozens of countries preaching the gospel. In a time when America was still adapting to life after World War II, Graham founded the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Graham seized the opportunity to spread the good news to a generation that was ripe for hearing the Word of God.

Graham’s crusade events gathered tens of thousands of listeners. He spoke almost nightly for several months in a row in New York City’s Madison Square Garden. In Los Angeles, what was supposed to be a three-week crusade turned into a two-month revival. Although he was offered a $1 million television contract, Graham stayed committed to his mission to preach the gospel in person across the globe. He preached in every country in the Eastern Bloc toward the end of the Cold War. For Graham, there were no boundaries to spreading the message of Jesus Christ.

In the 1950s and ‘60s, Graham gave support to the Civil Rights movement, standing firm behind desegregation, because he confidently believed that God sees all people as equal and made in His image, regardless of race. His belief turned into action when he posted bail for Martin Luther King, Jr. when King was imprisoned in Birmingham, Alabama. Graham sought justice in the social sphere as an essential part of living out Christ’s mission.

He also walked a fine line between being involved in politics and resisting any allegiance to a political system or party. In an interview with Larry King, Graham said, “I have not endorsed anybody [for president]. I do not intend to endorse anybody.” But he was still a close friend and spiritual advisor to President Johnson, President Nixon, and he even played golf with John F. Kennedy days before Kennedy’s inauguration. Graham has met with every U. S. president since Truman, providing spiritual counsel and direction.

In 2005, Billy Graham retired from full-time ministry because of his declining health. Yet he still welcomed President Obama to his home in the mountains of North Carolina. Graham also released an evangelical video, “Billy Graham’s Last Message to America and the World,” in 2013, where he reiterated the gospel message while reflecting on his own life and ministry. Showing his passion for revival in America, he said, “Our country is in great need of a spiritual awakening. There have been times when I’ve wept as I’ve gone from city to city and I’ve seen how far people have wandered from God.” But Graham remained steadfast that the cross is the transformative power of God. His most recent book is Where I Am: Heaven, Eternity, and Our Life Beyond (2015).

Billy Graham died February 1st, 2018. He was the most influential Christian in American life and across the world for seventy years. God blessed his preaching and his life because of his steadfast obedience to God’s calling. Graham had been in for the long haul––nearly one hundred years of life, decades of committed ministry, and one message for the world: the hope of forgiveness through the cross of Jesus Christ.



Featured Image by Ben White
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About the Author

Forrest is a graduate student in Boston, MA, where he studies Philosophy. He's a lifelong reader of everything from ancient history to modern poetry. He thinks music is one of the most important things in life and he loves trying to cook with his family. Forrest is obsessed with ideas and loves how interesting people are.