When Sarah Clark learned about Billy Graham’s ministry during a religion class, she couldn’t have known that two years later she would “cross the pond” for an in-depth study of his 1966 Greater London Crusade.
The third-year University of Cambridge history student recently spent two weeks at the Billy Graham Archive and Research Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, doing research for her dissertation with next year’s graduation in sight.
“There are lots of resources here,” she said. “If I’m getting so much stuff from the 1966 London Crusade, imagine how much more there is.”
The center, which opened in November 2022, houses a plethora of sermon notes, photos, video, and audio files documenting Billy Graham’s 70-plus years of worldwide ministry.
Clark discovered the center while searching the web for information on evangelical Christianity and young people in the 1960s.
Coming across Billy Graham’s 1966 Crusade, she was intrigued by the number of youth who made decisions for Christ after hearing the Gospel each night at London’s Earls Court Arena. Altogether, more than 1 million people attended in person or watched the month-long Crusade via closed circuit TV. Of those, thousands made decisions for Christ.
Clark dove deeper to understand how God worked in their hearts through the turbulence and rebellion that characterized this particular decade. She contacted staff at the Billy Graham Archive and Research Center and made plans for a two-week visit.
Once in Charlotte, Clark read numerous Billy Graham sermons and pored over his notes.
“What attracted young people was [Billy Graham’s] sincerity and the fact that he actually believed [what he was preaching],” she said. “In a period of uncertainly, it was probably nice to have someone who is clear about what life means.”
Another quality Clark admired in Billy Graham was his boldness, noting how “he didn’t change his teaching at all to suit society or to make himself look more popular.”
When the media—and some in the church—criticized him, she said, he continued to preach the Gospel.
Clark was inspired to be bolder in praying after witnessing Billy Graham’s dependence on God over the decades—and how God answered his prayers. She also explained how she’s been challenged to share her faith with fellow students more frequently.
At a time when many young Brits are dismissing Christianity, she said, the biggest takeaway from her research is how Billy Graham kept his messages focused on Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for us. The cross was always front and center.
“It’s the Gospel that’s actually making young people become a Christian,” Clark said, “rather than any kind of showy things or attempts to appeal to them.”