Billy Graham Glorifies God for 60 Years of Ministry

By   •   November 17, 2010

Flanked by long-time ministry partners Cliff Barrows and George Beverly Shea, Mr. Graham reminisced about special Crusade moments and expressed gratitude to God during an event celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
View photo gallery in Multimedia area at left.

“The thing that I remember most from all these years is that our God answers prayers,” said Mr. Graham. “We did all of this for only one reason– to glorify Christ, to present the person of the Lord Jesus Christ to people who needed Him. I want to thank Him again tonight for what He did on all those occasions.”

After a number of influential revival meetings, including the 1949 “Christ for Greater Los Angeles Campaign” that lasted eight weeks and vaulted Graham and his associates into the national spotlight, the team decided to formally incorporate in 1950 as the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA).

Its headquarters were in Minneapolis, Minn., where Graham was then serving as the president of Northwestern College. The organization moved in 2003 to Graham’s hometown of Charlotte.

None of the men that helped Billy Graham launch BGEA in 1950 – George Wilson, Cliff Barrows, George Beverly Shea, T.W. Wilson, Grady Wilson and others – had any idea then that it would one day become one of the largest and most established evangelistic ministries in the world.

“I never even expected to be a gospel singer,” said George Beverly Shea, his eyes twinkling and voice booming at 101. “I was just a radio announcer. It’s been a great privilege to be part of BGEA. I can’t describe the thrill of it. I am grateful that the Lord has enabled me to do this.”

Cliff Barrows said, “We’ve had marvelous fellowship as a team. We’ve been knit together with Bill’s heart. The apostle Paul said, ‘We, then, as partners together with Christ….’ Well, we have been a team of partners. That has been one of Bill’s great strong points. He needed people who shared his conviction, his calling and the desire to preach—or sing—the Gospel.”

Barrows jokingly one day said to Mr. Graham: “When we get to heaven, you’re going to be out of a job, but Bev Shea and I won’t. We’ll go on singing.” Then Bill smiled and replied, “When I get to heaven, I am going to sing like Bev Shea.”

“It’s a marvelous thing to be knit together in heart,” Barrows continued. “I’ve been with Bill 65 years and we’ve never had one word of disagreement or one argument. Now that’s an amazing thing. That’s his grace and God’s goodness and I praise Him for it. To have the fellowship of the team means everything, because we encourage one another. We are so privileged to be co-laborers together with Christ. Bill has a great heart for team ministry and BGEA is a ministry built on a team relationship.”

Memories

As the men reunited on stage, Barrows asked Mr. Graham to share memories about past Crusades. Talking about the New York City meetings in 1957, Graham acknowledged he struggled with tremendous fatigue about half way through the long summer.

“I would ask the Lord for strength for just one more day and He would give it to me,” Graham recalled. “I had the prayer support of the team – and we were a team. It was a wonderful experience to go to that platform and know that these men were back there praying.”

Graham continued, “One thing I’d like to say is that all the glory and the praise for anything we have done or will do goes to Jesus who died on the cross and rose again and who is standing to welcome us to heaven. I am looking forward to that day when I’ll be in heaven and I’ll see Ruth again. How I loved that woman. She had a big part in all of this that we are celebrating tonight.

“She was the most wonderful woman who ever lived,” he added. “She walked with God and she loved Him with all her heart. She lived for the Lord and lived in the Word. And she taught her children too what it’s all about to follow Christ.”

Graham said he was proud of all his children. “I am very proud of Franklin. I thank God for his leadership. It’s been tremendous the influence he has on my life and on thousands of others all over the world. I am thankful God gave me Franklin.”

Continuing to thank those who have made a difference in the past 60 years, Graham said he especially wanted to thank anyone who has contributed financially and supported the ministry in prayer. “I want to thank everybody concerned. People like you who have contributed through your gifts and your prayers–that made it all possible. God bless all of you. I love you.”

The Next 60 Years

As his father concluded speaking, Franklin also expressed gratitude: “We thank God not only for what He has done in the past 60 years, but also for what He will do in the next 60 years if the Lord tarries–for the opportunities we have to preach and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ literally around the world.

“The whole purpose of the BGEA–for my father and his team over these years–is to take the simple message of God’s love and share it with a world that does not know. And we have seen over the years millions of people give their lives to Christ. We give God the honor. We give Him the glory.”

Barrow pointed out that in the BGEA headquarters, “We have the names of over 9 million people who have made decisions for Christ. That’s what our BGEA is all about. Franklin has made that very clear. We are grateful for the Good News. The Gospel is good news.”

Will Graham–Franklin’s son and Billy’s grandson–is grateful for that wonderful heritage. “The early team helped put that foundation into place and God, I believe, has honored that foundation. God’s grace has allowed this ministry to continue. These men put Jesus first in all that they did, early in their careers, and faithfully proclaimed the Good News.”

For the next 60 years and beyond, said Will, “I hope each and every day at the BGEA, we’ll take time to win at least one person for Christ. To take every possible means that we can, whatever medium we can, and proclaim the Good News.”

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112 Comments

  1. Patty says:

    Rev Graham is the most amazing man of God this world has ever seen or ever will see. I so appreciate his ministry and the years of devoted service to our Lord Jesus Christ, I can not even begin to imagine the rewards that await him in Glory. We thank you and we thank God for you. God Bless You Always and Forevermore.

  2. Sue (Sydney Australia) says:

    Happy Birthday! May God bless you and continue to use you for His glory. I went with my school to hear you in the 1959 Crusade in Sydney and suddenly the last piece of the puzzle fell into place as you so clearly explained the gospel. Praise God! There are many people in my church who became Christians through your ministry at that Crusade. Thanks you Billy Graham and thank you God.

  3. temilade says:

    I WANT TO THANK GOD FOR YOUR LIFE THE MESSAGE OF CHRIST THAT HE GAVE YOU. I ONLY SEE YOU ON THE TV ,BUT I KNOW THAT IF I DONT SEE YOU FACE TO FACE HERE, WHEN CHRIST SHALL RETURN I WILL MEET YOU THEN. AMEN

  4. Ricardo says:

    Billy Graham played an important role in my christian path. In 1982 I read his book Nacer de Nuevo in Spanish (Born Again in English). In this book, Dr. Graham explained the cross so clear that the Holly Spirit made me understand the why's of Jesus sacrifice. Since then, he has always been an inspiration and example of integrity. I also read his biography in which he states that the first thing he will ask the Lord when he meets him will be: “Why me, Lord?”God bless you and all the ministry.

  5. Daisy Howie says:

    Pray for my family. Please send me the Daily version.

  6. Lillian says:

    I want to thank you and let you know my husband came to know Christ through your ministery on television shortly before he went to be with our Lord. My little son's face lit up like a candle when his Dad joined him in church. Looking down on them from the Choir, I thanked the Lord for your ministery through television. God Bless You, and Bless Franklin and the BGEA as they minister to those who so desperatly need to know the love of our Lord Jesus.

  7. Thomas Gill, Inida says:

    Dear Sir,I am so thankful to you for your preaching. I congratulate you for doing this from the past sixty years. I am not yet forty, but I would like to take your passion and reach the world as you have reached. I ask you to please pray for me and my misintry. I have learned so much from your messages by internet tapes and t.v programs. They have enriched my walk with God. I don't see many public evangelists like you, humble and powerful. May God richly bless you. Ask God to raise more Billy Grahams for nations are dying and we need voices like you who can blow the trumpet till Christ comes. Thank you once again for your famly and you team.

  8. Sherry says:

    I am very thankful to God for Billy Graham and his ministry. He has helped me through a lot of hard times in my life and I thank God for him everyday. My Mother who passed away in Feb. She loved him and I would always watch crusades with her cause my Dad was working. My daughters have watched him with me and love and respect him like I do. I am so happy God chose him to bring the gospel to the World and Franklin will carry on when Billy is not here anymore. Thanks Billy Graham, I love you!

  9. Margaret says:

    We thank God for the life and times of Billy Graham. As you continue to tell the world about Jesus, we pray for more strength and wisdom, and that the power of Jesus Christ continue to rest on you and your helpers.

  10. Colin says:

    Billy, you are a real man of GOD. In 1958 I went forward at one of your meetings in Australia,that changed my whole life.I now go into the public schools as a volunteer teaching the young kids about the life of Jesus.GOD made big changes in my life after your meetings in our country,I thank you for taking that step in faith and doing GOD's work all over the world. GOD BLESS YOU BILLY.