CHARLOTTE, N.C., Nov. 1, 2010 – One of Christian radio’s most beloved and longest-running programs hit airwaves across the country sixty years ago this week. “The Hour of Decision” with evangelist Billy Graham, which began as a step of faith by a budding ministry, has grown into one of the most widely distributed radio broadcasts in the world.
Today, “The Hour of Decision” airs on 581 radio stations across the country and on several networks. Internationally, the program airs on 39 radio outlets in Canada, 345 across Australia and 38 Spanish-language outlets. In all, the program airs in five languages – English, Spanish, French, Mandarin and Farsi – in 55 countries on six continents.
Cliff Barrows, who traveled the world with Billy Graham for more than 50 years directing Crusade choirs, has been the program’s only host since 1950 and remains its host today.
“It’s been my joy and privilege these 60 years to introduce listeners across the world to my good friend Billy Graham,” said Barrows, a member of the National Religious Broadcasters Hall of Fame. “The messages Billy preached 60 years ago and over the years are as relevant today as when he delivered them. God continues to use Billy’s faithfulness to reach a hurting world with the Good News of Jesus Christ. We thank God for the faithful prayer support of so many who have been our partners in ministry all these years.”
In his autobiography, “Just As I Am,” Billy Graham recounts the story of how “The Hour of Decision” was birthed in part from a Crusade in Portland, Ore., in 1950. Despite feeling he didn’t have the time, at the persistence of two men who wanted him to start a radio broadcast, one day Mr. Graham laughingly said he would be willing if he were donated $25,000 for that purpose before midnight. He announced it at the Crusade that evening, and at the conclusion of the meeting $24,000 had been donated for the broadcast. When Mr. Graham returned to the hotel, two donations of $500 each awaited them – both for radio.
“Stunned, I bowed my head and said a silent prayer,” writes Mr. Graham. “Emotion so overcame me that I could not think straight. Clearly, the funds had come from God.” The team soon signed with ABC and the first broadcast was live from the Billy Graham Crusade in Atlanta, Ga., on Nov. 5, 1950.
It was also through this occasion that the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association officially began in 1950. Since then, in addition to producing “The Hour of Decision,” BGEA has organized hundreds of evangelistic meetings worldwide and been extensively involved in training Christians to reach their friends with the message of the Gospel. BGEA continues this urgent work today through training ministries and large events with evangelists Franklin Graham and Will Graham.
“The Hour of Decision” edition marking BGEA’s 60th anniversary, which includes a portion of the very first broadcast, is available at www.HourofDecision.org. The website also includes station listings.
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), which is celebrating 60 years of ministry in 2010, proclaims the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ throughout the world by every effective means available. From its headquarters in Charlotte, N.C., the BGEA directs a wide range of domestic and international ministries, including: large-scale festivals led by evangelists Franklin Graham and Will Graham; Dare to Be a Daniel, a youth evangelism training project; My Hope World Evangelism Through Television; the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team of crisis-trained chaplains; and many others through print, television, telephone, radio and the Internet. For more information, please visit www.billygraham.org. Get BGEA news updates on Twitter at Twitter.com/BGEAMediaPR.