Evangelist Billy Graham has preached the gospel to more
people in live
audiences than anyone else in history -- over 210 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 and film.
Since the 1949 Los Angeles crusade vaulted Mr. Graham into the public
eye, he has led hundreds of thousands to make personal decisions to live
for Christ. That is the main thrust of his ministry.
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 16, 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 was 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
After graduating from college, Mr. Graham joined 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 the 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 79, 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 bushman 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
the former Eastern bloc, including the former Soviet Union.
Mr. Graham founded the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in 1950,
which headquarters in Minneapolis, Minn. He conducts his ministry
through BGEA, including:
the weekly "Hour of Decision" radio program broadcast by more
than 900 stations around the world.
crusade television specials which are regularly broadcast in prime
time in almost every market in the United States and Canada,
reaching an estimated 60 million viewers each year.
a newspaper column, "My Answer," which is carried by newspapers
across the country with a combined circulation of more than five
Decision magazine, the official publication of the Association, has a
circulation of 1.7 million in 160 countries, making it one of the largest
religious periodicals in the world.
Alive! magazine, a quarterly publication for young people, launched
in 1997, both in print and on the World Wide Web.
World Wide Pictures is one of the foremost producers of
evangelistic films in the world. Available on video cassette and as
16/35 mm films, they are distributed outside of North America by
BGEA's International Film Ministries, working with local distributors,
Christian ministries, churches, missionaries, TV stations and
cinemas. In 1995, more than 17,600 churches, youth groups,
camps and prisons showed these films across the U.S. and
Canada. An additional 8-10 million people watched them on
television, and millions more saw them on video.
Mr. Graham has written 18 books, all of which have become top sellers.
His latest, "Just As I Am," published in 1997, achieved a "triple crown,"
appearing simultaneously on the three top best-seller lists in one week.
this autobiography, Mr. Graham reflects on his life, including nearly 60
years of ministry around the world. From humble beginnings as the son of
a dairy farmer in North Carolina, he shares how his unwavering faith in
Christ formed and shaped his career.
Of his other books, "Approaching Hoofbeats: The Four Horsemen of the
Apocalypse" (1983) was listed for several weeks on The New York Times
best-seller list; "How To Be Born Again" (1977) had the largest first printing
in publishing history with 800,000 copies; "Angels: God's Secret Agents"
(1975) sold one million copies within 90 days; and "The Jesus Generation"
(1971) sold 200,000 copies in the first two weeks.
Mr. Graham's counsel has been sought by presidents, and his appeal in
both the secular and religious arenas is evidenced by the wide range of
groups that have honored him, including numerous honorary doctorates
from many institutions in the U.S. and abroad. Recognitions range from
the Congressional Gold Medal to the Speaker of the Year Award, and the
Templeton Foundation Prize for Progress in Religion. He has received the
Big Brother Award for his work on behalf of the welfare of children and
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
Christians and Jews for his efforts to foster a better understanding among
Mr. Graham is regularly listed by the Gallup organization as one of the
"Ten Most Admired Men in the World" and was described by them as the
dominant figure in that poll over the past 45 years -- making an
unparalleled 39th appearance and 32nd consecutive appearance. He has
also been on the covers of "Time," "Newsweek," "Life," "U.S. News and
World Report," "Parade," and numerous other magazines and has been
the subject of many newspaper and magazine feature articles and books.
Mr. Graham stays fit by swimming and aerobic walking when his schedule
permits. He and his wife, Ruth, have three daughters, two sons, 19
grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren. The Grahams make
their home in the mountains of North Carolina.