by Marty Duren
Those who know Billy Graham only from his latter-years may be unaware of what brought the tall, thin North Carolinian to national, then global, prominence: his preaching. Videos of a younger Graham shows a man
“Everywhere I go I find that people … are asking one basic question, “Billy Graham said. “‘Is there any hope for the future?’ My answer is the same, ‘Yes, through Jesus Christ.’”
Billy Graham is reported to have preached to 215 million people in person in his lifetime. It is a feat unlikely to be surpassed.
But, it is not Graham’s messages alone that are remembered; so are his methods.
“It’s hard — no, impossible — to overstate the influence of Billy Graham in global evangelism,” said Ed Stetzer, director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at Wheaton College. “He pioneered methods, mobilized Christians, and endorsed leaders. The end result was a more unified evangelicalism, a clear focus on evangelism and missions, and a greater sense of societal concern.”
During his ministry, Graham preached in Korea during wartime (under military supervision), under threat in Japan, to 2 million people during the 12-week London crusade (1954), behind the Iron Curtain, and risked his life during an Africa/Middle East preaching tour to 100 cities and villages in 1960. His largest single audience was during a 1973 crusade in Seoul, South
Before the fall of the Soviet Union, in May 1982, Graham preached in Moscow. Around a quarter of the 155,000 in attendance responded to the invitation.
“A man like Dr. Graham only shows up about once every hundred years,” noted Brad Waggoner, executive vice-president of LifeWay Christian Resources. “Those of us who were fortunate enough to hear and be around him are blessed indeed.”
“Billy Graham reminded us that gospel proclamation mattered — in the crusade, sure, but everywhere,” said Stetzer. “He prioritized evangelism and called us all to do the same.”