A Look Back at 70 Years of Sharing the Gospel

By   •   September 4, 2020

Billy Graham's 1949 Crusade in Los Angeles, California, was supposed to last three weeks but ran for eight as the evangelist preached the Gospel. The crowds and his message caught the attention of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. The resulting national and international news coverage launched Billy Graham into prominence. The next year, on September 15, 1950, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) was formed.
In the decades to come, the ministry team—consisting of Billy Graham, Cliff Barrows, George Beverly Shea and others—would travel the world sharing God's love. In 1957, Billy Graham preached almost nightly during a marathon three-month Crusade in New York City. Besides the iconic Madison Square Garden and Yankee Stadium, he took the Good News to the people in Harlem and around the city. Here, secretaries, clerks and bankers stand shoulder to shoulder in Manhattan's financial district during their lunch hour.
Billy Graham visited troops in Vietnam around Christmastime 1966 and returned in 1968. His son Franklin Graham, CEO and president of the BGEA, shared: “My father felt it was important to go and minister to the U.S. Military. He went to Vietnam not because he supported the war, he was going there to minister … to men that were dying on the battlefield.” Five decades later, Franklin Graham returned to this southeast Asian country to share the Gospel through the Hanoi Festival of Hope. This historical event marked the first time a large-scale Christian event was held in the communist nation.
Through the support of BGEA donors and local churches, Billy Graham held Crusades in 85 countries on six continents. The largest audience was on June 3, 1973—during a 5-day Seoul, South Korea Crusade—when an estimated 1.1 million people attended on one day. Most traveled there by foot. “If you’re willing to forsake all other gods, stand up,” Graham implored at the end of his message. After a hush, thousands in this largely non-Christian country stood up and prayed to receive Jesus Christ as Savior.
In 1985, Billy Graham accepted a rare opportunity to pass through the Iron Curtain and take the Gospel to Romania and Hungary. Desperate for hope during the reign of communism, thousands heard him speak at Timisoara’s Orthodox Cathedral. Here, about 150,000 people greet him in the city’s public square. Franklin Graham held a Festival of Hope in Timisoara in July 2008.
An estimated 250,000 people heard the Good News at this 1991 Central Park rally in New York City. It was the largest audience Billy Graham ever addressed in North America. In his message to the Big Apple, he said, "Everybody I talk to, it seems, agrees that New York is the loneliest place in the world. … To be without God in New York is to be terribly lonely … God has not abandoned us … God loves you!” ­
The Billy Graham Library was created to be an "ongoing Crusade" that points people to the cross. At the dedication service in 2007, three former U.S. presidents joined Billy Graham and others—Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Throughout his ministry, the "Pastor to Presidents" met with every U.S. President since World War II concerning spiritual matters.
In 2016, Franklin Graham traveled to all 50 state capitals for the Decision America Tour. The one-day evangelistic events call people to pray for their local and national leaders to seek God and stand boldly for His truth. Decision America Tour events have continued across the U.S., including in Tennessee, Texas, North Carolina and Florida, in addition to the Pacific Northwest and Northeastern states.
Billy Graham passed away to his heavenly home on February 21, 2018, at the age of 99. A week later, he became the fourth private citizen and the 34th overall to lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda. Billy Graham joined a legendary list that includes Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy and Rosa Parks. See photos and videos, plus read about Billy Graham's memorial events. The evangelist once wrote: "Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don't you believe a word of it! I shall be more alive than I am now. I will have just changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God." >>Be sure of your salvation in Jesus Christ. Pray now.