The mid- twentieth century was a period of great change and development in many aspects of the world. World War II was coming to a close, the development of nuclear and atomic warheads was becoming prioritized, and people around the world were diving into an interesting new world containing new developments in technology. This revolutionary period also brought about more freedom and lack of reliance on the church for support. Many Americans sought to break free from the strict governing of the church and find themselves in the world. Countless lost their faith in God and choose to live lives unrestricted by a deity. Yet there were also others whom had not yet met this God that so many had lost faith in after the war; people around the world and some just down the street. This is when the famed Billy Graham begins to earn the renown he is known for. Billy Graham is the most famous evangelist the twentieth century had ever known and he holds his reputation to this day.
William Franklin Graham Jr. was born on November 7, 1918 in Charlotte, North Carolina. He lived on a small dairy farm with his mother and father, Morrow and William, and his three other siblings. It was a traveling evangelist named Mordecai Ham that first started Graham down his spiritual path of righteousness. Graham had attended spiritual revivals that spoke to the sixteen year old. So after high school, he traveled to Tennessee to attend Bob Jones College but quickly transferred to Florida Bible Institute because of the disconnection he felt from the school. He then joined the Baptist Convention Church and was ordained in 1939. Once Graham graduated from Florida Bible Institute, having earned a bachelor’s degree in Theology, he went to Wheaton College in Illinois to extend his training. Here he met his future wife, Ruth McCue Bell and they would have five children together.
Graham began his journey by briefly pastoring the First Baptist Church in Western Springs, Illinois and then joined Youth for Christ which spoke to servicemen and young people about God. He then resigned from Youth for Christ to become president of a group of Christian schools in Minnesota, called the Northwestern Schools, in 1947. He resigned in 1952 to become more focused on preaching. Once Graham became more adamant in preaching, many began to recognize him by his charisma and heartfelt sermons. Graham was invited by a group called “Christ for Greater Los Angeles” to preach at a revival they were holding in 1949 and when Graham went on Stuart Hamblen’s radio show, news of the revival spread like fire. The Revival had a major turn out and word of Graham’s meetings spread around the United States.
After that important aspect in Graham’s life, he became a superstar; to the secular world and religious alike. It is believed by sociology that the reason for his great and sudden success was related to the cultural aspects of post- World War II. Graham made it known to the public that he believed Communism was wrong and that it cannot go on. Graham said in a 1954 interview that, “Either communism must die, or Christianity must die, because it is actually a battle between Christ and anti- Christ.” Graham offered hope and reassurance to a people looking for something to cling to, and Graham offered them spirituality and illuminated their paths with his words and actions. He helped bind together a nation through religion and gave them something to cling to when they felt that their way of life was being threatened.
For Graham to increase and maintain his ministry, he and his colleagues created the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. He began broadcasting his sermons on the radio and he also hosted a television program once a week called The Hour of Decision. As the success of his programs grew, BGEA opened numerous international offices and began publishing books, records, and films. They organized evangelical “crusades” where audience members were invited to offer their lives to...
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