- Graham, William Franklin Billy
- (b. 1918)prominent international evangelistBilly Graham was born on November 7, 1918, at Charlotte, North Carolina, a child of conservative presbyterians. He was converted to a personal faith in fall 1934 by Baptist evangelist Mordecai Ham (1878-1959) at a revival in Charlotte. Graham subsequently attended Bob Jones University and Florida Bible Institute (now Trinity College). He was ordained by the Southern Baptist Convention in 1939 and graduated from Wheaton College in 1943. While at Wheaton, he met his future wife, Ruth McCue Bell, who was the daughter of a medical missionary in China.Graham became associated with Youth for Christ, for whom he held revival meetings, and he became president of the Northwestern schools in Minneapolis founded by William Bell Riley (1861-1947). Then in 1949, he led a set of revival services in Los Angeles that proved so popular they were extended for more than eight weeks of overflow crowds. Within a few years, the structures that were to carry him for most of his life were set in place.In 1950, he founded the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and launched a radio show, The Hour of Decision, which was broadcast across the United States and around the world for more than 50 years. The next year, he resigned from his school presidency to become a full-time evangelist, and in 1952, he began his nationally syndicated daily newspaper column, "My Answer," which still has a readership of 5 million. in 1953, he released his first book, Peace with God. The Evangelistic Association, headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, sponsors World Wide pictures, which has produced more than 125 motion pictures, some translated into as many as 40 languages. Graham has continued to preach in his senior years.As Graham's reputation grew, he became the confidant of American presidents and a well-known public figure worldwide. His evangelistic services were broadcast on television as popular special events several times annually. He has preached in most of the world's 240 countries, usually accompanied by songleader George Beverley Shea (b. 1909). In 1974, Graham convened the Lausanne Congress on World Evangelism, which issued the Lausanne Covenant, one of the more definitive statements of modern Evangelicalism.Graham has authored some 25 books, including Angels: God's Secret Agents (1975), How to Be Born Again (1977), Approaching Hoofbeats: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1983), and his best-selling autobiography, Just As I Am, which is also the title of the song often played as participants are called for decision at the close of Graham's preaching services.in his senior years, Graham was honored with a Congressional Gold Medal and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation Freedom Award. He was also honored by the Anti-Defamation League of the B'nai B'rith and the National Conference of Christians and Jews for his contributions to understanding between faiths (a unique recognition for a Christian evangelist); he was made an Honorary Knight Commander of the order of the British Empire (KBE).Graham's son, Franklin Graham (b. 1952), has emerged as the heir apparent of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and also serves as the head of the Samaritan's Purse, an international Christian aid association. Anne Graham Lotz, Graham's daughter, though not ordained, has founded Angel Ministeries and serves as an evangelist and Bible teacher, with her father's blessings.See also revivalism.Further reading:■ Lewis A. Drummond, The Evangelist (Nashville, Tenn.: World, 2001)■ Billy Graham, Just As I Am: The Autobiography of Billy Graham (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1997)■ ----, My Answer (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1960);, World Aflame (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1965)■ John Pollock, Billy Graham: The Authorized Biography (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1966).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.