Remembering Dr. Sterling Huston, Long-Time Billy Graham Associate

By   •   July 3, 2012

“Sterling was one of my closest associates,” Billy Graham said, “and his vision, his unique gifts and his strong commitment to evangelism were indispensible to my Crusade ministry.  Over the years Sterling organized and directed dozens of our city-wide crusades, and his winsome spirit and his confidence in the life-changing power of the Gospel inspired countless Christians to reach their communities for Christ.  Without his dedication and careful attention to detail our Crusade ministry would have been severely limited.”

“Sterling will be greatly missed, as he was a wonderful servant of the Lord and a real friend,” said Franklin Graham, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA).  “All of us at BGEA are indebted to him for his years of faithful service, especially to my father and his team.”

Sterling Huston was born on May 19, 1936, in Perham, Maine.  He graduated with the Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in industrial engineering from the University of Maine, and pursued advanced studies at the University of Rochester, New York.  After three years as an engineer with Eastman Kodak in Rochester, Huston sensed that God was calling him to leave industry and serve as Executive Director of Youth for Christ in Rochester.  In 1966 he was asked to join the Billy Graham team as a Crusade Coordinator, and later became Director of Associate Crusades.  He assumed the responsibility of Director of North American Crusades in 1974, and in recent years served as BGEA’s Director of Special Ministries.

“Sterling was a true servant of the Lord, and, of course, to Mr. Graham and this ministry,” noted Kenneth Barun, BGEA’s current Chief of Staff.  “Even up to the last few weeks of his life here on earth, he was working on BGEA matters.  He was always, without fail, a perfect gentleman.”

Added Dr. David Bruce, Executive Assistant to Billy Graham and one of Sterling Huston’s long-time colleagues, “Sterling not only had a deep commitment to Mr. Graham’s public ministry, but he wanted to pass on to others the lessons God had taught us about evangelism.  For example, he oversaw the development of BGEA’s Christian Life and Witness program, which has helped many thousands strengthen their relationship with Christ and share their faith with others.”  

Huston also taught at numerous BGEA Schools of Evangelism, and was a speaker at several major international evangelism conferences, including Amsterdam ’83, Amsterdam ’86, and Amsterdam 2000.  He also was Chair of the 1994 North American Conference for Itinerant Evangelists, which brought together over 2500 evangelists to develop new strategies for reaching their nations for Christ.  

Huston was the author of two widely influential books, The Billy Graham Crusade Handbook (1983) and Crusade Evangelism and the Local Church (1984, revised edition 1996).  In addition, until his death he was Chair of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association – Wheaton College Liaison Committee, which oversees the work of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College, Illinois. He received the Doctor of Divinity degree from Roberts Wesleyan College in 1984.

In addition to his service with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Huston served on numerous boards and committees, including Evangelism Explosion, Mission America, and Operation Starting Line (a coalition of ministries focused on prisons).  He was an early proponent of using the Internet as a means of evangelism, and was Chair of the Internet Evangelism Coalition, an international coalition of ministries committed to Internet evangelism.

“Sterling was literally the first in my door to encourage and help me when I was asked to head up BGEA’s new Internet evangelism efforts,” said Duane Gaylord, Vice President of Video and Digital Media Services.  To date over 3.2 million people have been exposed to the Gospel through BGEA’s Internet ministry, with 550,000 indicating their commitment to Jesus Christ.

Dr. Huston is survived by his wife of 47 years, Esther, and their two children, Todd and Alissa, and their families.

Memorial Service

A service to celebrate the life of Sterling Huston is planned for Saturday, July 21 at Browncroft Community Church in Rochester, N.Y. The service begins at 1:30 p.m.

Memorial Gifts

Memorial contributions can be made to the Billy Graham Library. You can donate online, inquire about the Library Endowment, or consider an engraved paver stone

More information

Further information on Dr. Huston’s life and ministry can be found on a memorial page set up by the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center Archives.

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  1. Lloyd says:

    Sterling was a good mediator and mentor when I was part of a group working at what became the Billy Graham British Columbia mission in the early 80s.

  2. John says:

    Our father, John Wesley White, is deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Sterling, his longtime friend and colleague whose wise counsel, warmth, and kindness will be terribly missed.

  3. David says:

    My life is richer and fuller because of my brother in the Lord, Sterling. Always witty and always encouraging he would bring the conversation always back to “what has the Lord shown you recently?” Bless the Huston family with grace and peace.

  4. Thomas Prabhakaran says:

    What a welcome this godly person recived in heaven When entered.There would have been thandarous ovation from Angelic choir

  5. Tim says:

    Your life and your ministry inspired me and I will try to honor the standard you set in my work.

  6. Jack says:

    I knew Mr. Huston and his family during my tenure in youth ministry at his home church in Rochester. To Esther, Todd, and Alissa, my sympathies. He impacted and touched many people- God bless to you all.

  7. Robert says:

    I am very sadden to learn of Sterling's home going. I have personally been very blessed by his graciousness and friendship. My prayers go out to Ester and the family.

  8. Wesley says:

    It is with profound sadness that we have learned of the untimely “home-going” of our dear friend Sterling Huston, whom we have had the privilege of knowing since his early days as Executive Director of Rochester YFC. He will be greatly missed.

  9. Debra says:

    Over the last dozen years I have had the privilege of serving with Sterling on 3 different boards. He has been my mentor, my colleague and my friend. I consider myself blessed beyond measure to have served with and learned from him. He is missed.

  10. Maureen says:

    My sympathy to all the Huston family…I remember him best as a wonderful husband and a loving dad to Todd and Alyssa…..Maureen Ryan Ehrmentraut