Know Your Southern Baptists: Billy Graham
Age: 94 (born November 7, 1918)
Why you’ve heard of him: He was the preeminent evangelist of the 20th century and has preached the gospel to nearly 215 million people in more than 185 countries and territories—more in live audiences than anyone else in history.
Position: Evangelist and Chairman of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
Books: Graham is the author of 31 books. His first, Calling Youth to Christ, was published in 1947, and his most recent, The Heaven Answer Book, released in 2012. Some of his more popular works include: Hope for Each Day, Angels, Just As I Am: The Autobiography of Billy Graham, Peace With God, Hope for the Troubled Heart, and How to Be Born Again.
Why he’s important: According to the BGEA, millions have responded to the gospel during Graham’s crusades around the world. He has served as the de facto spiritual advisor in America, appearing on Gallup’s “Ten Most Admired Men in the World” an unparalleled 56 times total with his inclusion in 2012 marking his 50th consecutive. He has been called the pastor to presidents, as he has had a personal audience with U.S. presidents from Harry Truman to Barack Obama.
He was particularly influential in the growth of evangelical Christianity, as opposed to liberal and fundamentalist views of the faith. Graham sought a Christian faith that was biblical, intellectual, and still engaged with the culture. Because of this perspective, he founded numerous ministries in the field of mass communication, including a movie studio, radio stations, and, most perhaps most prominent, the magazine Christianity Today.
Graham also played a role in racial reconciliation, inviting Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. to share the pulpit with him during his New York City crusade in 1957 and posting bail for the minister when he was jailed in 1963 during the civil rights protests in Birmingham, AL.
“It is far too easy for someone in my position to read the Bible only with an eye on a future sermon, overlooking the message God has for me through its pages.”
“We are not cisterns made for hoarding, we are channels made for sharing.”
“Suffering is part of the human condition, and it comes to us all. The key is how we react to it, either turning away from God in anger and bitterness or growing closer to Him in trust and confidence.”
“I have failed many times, and I would do many things differently. For one thing, I would speak less and study more, and I would spend more time with my family.”
“The thing we need to know more than anything else is that we are forgiven. That’s what Christ can do.”