- For other uses, see Billy Graham (disambiguation) and Bill Graham.
The Rev. Dr. William Franklin Graham, Jr., KBE (born November 7, 1918), commonly known as Billy Graham, is an American Christian evangelist who has preached the message of Christianity around the world, reaching live audiences of 210 million people in 185 countries. He has led hundreds of thousands of people to make personal decisions to "accept Jesus Christ into their lives", this being the main thrust of his ministry. Many of his sermons center on the topic "Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation." He has often advised U.S. presidents and continues to be listed as one of the "Ten Most Admired Men in the World" in Gallup Polls.
He was born in in Charlotte, North Carolina. Raised as a Presbyterian, Billy Graham made a commitment to follow Jesus Christ in 1934 during a revival meeting conducted by Mordecai Ham . Graham was ordained in 1939 by a Southern Baptist church. He graduated from Florida Bible Institute, now called Trinity College of Florida , in 1940 and graduated from Wheaton College 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 infallibility issue, which was settled at Forest Home Christian camp (now called Forest Home Ministries) southeast of the Big Bear area in Southern California. A simple memorial there still marks the site of Graham's decision. He also married Ruth Bell, whose parents were Christian missionary doctors in China. He and his wife have three daughters, two sons (including Franklin Graham, who now administers his organization), 19 grandchildren and many great grandchildren.
Graham joined Youth for Christ after graduating from Wheaton. He traveled throughout the United States and Europe as an evangelist. Graham scheduled a series of missions in Los Angeles in 1949. The missions went on for 8 weeks after being originally schedule for only 3 weeks. This happened on many other of his early missions. He 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.
Dr. Graham served as the President of Northwestern College in Minnesota from 1948 to 1952. He founded the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in 1950, headquartered in Minneapolis. The Association later relocated to Charlotte, N.C. BGEA Ministries have included:
- Hour of Decision , a weekly radio program broadcast around the world for over 50 years
- 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
- passageway.org, the teen website of the BGEA
- World Wide Pictures , which has produced and distributed over 130 productions
Billy Graham has written 25 books, many of which have been translated into 38 languages, including:
- Peace With God (1953)
- The Secret of Happiness (1955)
- My Answer (1960)
- World Aflame (1965)
- The Challenge (1969)
- The Jesus Generation (1971)
- Angels: God's Secret Agents (1975)
- How to Be Born Again (1977)
- The Holy Spirit (1978)
- Till Armageddon (1981)
- Approaching Hoofbeats: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1983)
- Facing Death and the Life After (1987)
- Hope for the Troubled Heart (1991)
- Storm Warning (1992)
- Just As I Am his autobiography (1997)
Awards and honors
Billy Graham has received the Congressional Gold Medal; the Templeton Foundation Prize for Progress in Religion; and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation Freedom Award for contributions to the cause of faith and freedom.
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 also been recognized by the Anti-Defamation League of the B'nai B'rith and the National Conference of Christians and Jews for his efforts to foster a better understanding among all faiths.
For providing a platform during his events for many Christian musical artists - many new to singing and songwriting and others not so new - Billy Graham was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1999 by the Gospel Music Association.
At noon Friday, September 14, 2001 in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks, Dr. Graham led a prayer and remembrance service at Washington National Cathedral attended by President George W. Bush and past and present leaders.
In December 2001 he was presented with an honorary knighthood, Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE), for his international contribution to civic and religious life over 60 years.
Even though Graham has been the minister for presidents, he has spoken at only one presidential funeral. Graham presided over the graveside services for former president Lyndon Johnson in 1973 and took part in eulogizing the former president with former Texas Democratic governor John Connally, an LBJ protege and fellow Texan who was wounded in the assassination that made LBJ president.
- "My one purpose in life is to help people find a personal relationship with God, which, I believe, comes through knowing Christ."
- "If you find a perfect church don't join it: You'd spoil it."
- "After watching 'The Passion of the Christ', I feel as if I have actually been there. I was moved to tears. I doubt if there has ever been a more graphic and moving presentation of Jesus' death and resurrection."
In 1994, H. R. Haldeman posthumously published "The Haldeman Diaries", which alleged that Billy Graham had conspired with President Richard Nixon to remove prominent Jewish members from the media, in the belief that they were responsible for the nation's problems. The assertions received little attention until 2002, partly because of Graham's denials, until the U. S. National Archives released a tape of one of the conversations Nixon had recorded (on 1 February 1972).
"... a lot of the Jews are great friends of mine, they swarm around me and are friendly to me because they know that I'm friendly with Israel. But they don't know how I really feel about what they are doing to this country. And I have no power, no way to handle them, but I would stand up if under proper circumstances."
When the evidence was available to the public, Graham issued a brief apology, indicating that he did not remember making the statement. Later outcry from the Anti-Defamation League brought a longer apology from Graham.
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