William (Billy) Graham
William Franklin "Billy" Graham, Jr. (born November 7, 1918) is an American evangelical Christian evangelist, ordained as a Southern Baptist minister, who rose to celebrity status with national media backing of William Randolph Hearst and Henry Luce in 1949. His sermons were broadcast on radio and television, with some still re-broadcast today. Graham is notable for having been a spiritual adviser to several United States Presidents; he was particularly close to Dwight D.
Charlotte, North Carolina, US
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 in China.
After graduating from college, Mr. Graham pastored the First Baptist Church in Western Springs, Illinois, before joining 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 a 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. 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 bushmen of Australia and the wandering tribes of Africa and the Middle East. Mr. Graham founded the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) in 1950 which was headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, until relocating to Charlotte, North Carolina in 2003.
Mr. Graham has written 25 books, many of which have become top sellers. His memoirs, Mr. Graham has written 25 books, many of which have become top sellers. His memoirs, Just As I Am, published in 1997, achieved a “triple crown,” appearing simultaneously on the three top best-seller lists in one week. In it Mr. Graham reflects on his life, including more than 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.
He and his wife, Ruth, have three daughters, two sons, 19 grandchildren and numerous great grandchildren.