Extraordinary True Stories From the 1959 Billy Graham Crusade in Australia

By   •   April 10, 2024

Billy Graham preaching Australia

Billy Graham’s grandson, Will Graham, will be in Australia for the Gold Coast Look Up Celebration. The free event on June 29 features live music from award-winning artists and a message of hope from Will Graham.

In the 1950s, during the early days of Billy Graham’s ministry, the young evangelist had what he called “an overwhelming burden to visit the distant continent of Australia.”

As his Crusades in cities like New York and Los Angeles drew worldwide media attention, he began to receive invitations from church leaders across Australia asking him to come and preach the Gospel there.

When Mr. Graham kissed his family goodbye in February 1959 and headed south for a three-month Crusade across Australia and New Zealand, he had no idea nearly a third of Australia’s population would attend one of his events by the time all was said and done.

As Mr. Graham and his team proclaimed the love of Jesus Christ night after night in city after city, the response was overwhelming. The Sydney Morning Herald called the Crusade “one of the most remarkable religious phenomena ever experienced in this city.”

Sixty-five years later, Will Graham will proclaim the Good News at the Gold Coast Look Up Celebration. As you pray for the Holy Spirit to move powerfully in Australia, enjoy reading five of the most remarkable stories from Billy Graham’s landmark Crusade, as documented by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in 1959.

Australians arriving at the Melbourne Crusade in 1959.

Explosives at the Crusade

One night, a man was standing near a Crusade usher when Billy Graham gave the invitation to receive Jesus Christ as Savior. The man turned to the usher and asked, “Will Christ really forgive any sin?” The usher assured him of God’s forgiveness.

That’s when the man thrust a package into the usher’s hands and went forward. Inside the package the usher found a loaded revolver, explosives and detonators.

The man found the usher again later and shared his story of salvation. He had been a criminal but was moved by the Holy Spirit to turn his life over to Christ. Within the week, he brought nine other men to the Crusade, all of whom accepted Christ as Savior.

Confession at the Bank

In Sydney, a man came forward to accept Christ and ask forgiveness for his sins—which included embezzling a large amount of money from the bank where he worked.

Though he hadn’t been caught, he confessed the next morning to the bank manager and offered to pay the money back. As Billy Graham wrote in his autobiography Just As I Am, the man knew he faced “almost certain dismissal and prosecution.” But that’s not what happened.

“The manager was so impressed with the man’s change of heart that he not only kept him on staff,” Mr. Graham wrote, “but went to the Crusade that night and gave his own life to Christ.”

Compound Interest

As the Crusade was going on, a Chinese businessman was surprised to receive a check from a former business associate. The check was for a little over £85 (the equivalent of about £1,900 or $2,400 today).

Seven years earlier, the man who wrote the check had “borrowed, without returning, samples of linen worth £40.” He received Christ at a Crusade meeting and returned the original amount—plus more than £45 of compound interest (computed at 10 percent).

After receiving the check, the Chinese businessman decided to attend the Crusade. He ended up donating the £45 of compound interest to the cause of the Crusade and expressing a desire to know Christ.

A Broken Marriage Restored

On one night of the Crusade, Billy Graham was preaching about family life and the home. He told the following account in his autobiography:

A divorced man was there with the girlfriend who had been the cause of the breakup of his marriage. The message penetrated his heart, and as he looked up during the Invitation, he saw his former wife going forward to give her life to Christ. With tears of remorse, he went and stood beside her, becoming reconciled not only to God but to the wife he had rejected.

From Witchcraft to the One True God

Ron Baker “had almost everything going against him, including functional illiteracy and a speech impediment brought on by a violently abusive childhood,” Billy Graham wrote. “An alcoholic and a confirmed gambler, Ron was also deeply involved in witchcraft.”

Ron was a bus driver who ended each night by getting drunk at his local bar, coming home in a rage and often abusing his wife.

Like many bus drivers across Australia, Ron had been assigned to transport people to and from Crusade events—an assignment which disgusted him.

One evening he worked later than usual and missed his nightly appointment at the bar. He arrived home—stone cold sober—to find a friend waiting to invite him to the Crusade. Ron’s wife had committed her life to Christ at the Crusade just a few nights before and encouraged Ron to give it a chance. He flew into a fit of rage but eventually calmed down and agreed to go—as long as they sat as far away from Billy Graham as possible.

“I thought that the message was the greatest load of garbage I had ever heard,” Ron wrote later. But he couldn’t deny that the message had rattled him.

“God spoke to him that night,” Mr. Graham wrote, “and he made his own commitment to Christ. He struggled with his alcoholism for two years, but gradually Christ changed him from within.”

In the years that followed, Ron overcame his speech impediment, began to study the Bible, completed seminary and became an evangelist. The Lord has used him to reach countless others with the hope of Christ.

God makes all things possible. Put your faith in Him today.

Crowds overflowed from the stands onto the arena grounds during the Melbourne Crusade in 1959.