The Life and Ministry of Billy Graham

1918 – Born near Charlotte, North Carolina, to William and Morrow Graham.

1934 – Is converted at Mordecai Ham revival.

1939 – Is ordained as Southern Baptist minister.

1940 – Enrolls at Wheaton College.

1943 – Marries Ruth Bell. 

1943 – Begins pastorate at Western Springs Baptist Church. 

1944 – Recruits singer George Beverly Shea. 

1944 – Becomes evangelist with Youth for Christ.

1947 – Accepts W. B. Riley’s invitation to lead Northwestern Schools in Minnesota.

1948 – Formulates “Modesto Manifesto,” the crusade team’s ethical charter. 

1949 – After crisis of faith at Forest Home Bible Conference, recommits himself to the trustworthiness of Scripture. 

1949 – Extends Christ for Greater Los Angeles revival to eight weeks; garners major press attention. 

1950 – Holds groundbreaking New Year’s meetings in Boston. 

1950 – In Columbia, South Carolina, dubs meetings “crusades” for the first time. 

1950 – Incorporates Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. 

1950 – Begins Hour of Decision radio broadcast. 

1952 – Resigns presidency of Northwestern Schools.

1952 –Holds Christmas services for troops at Korean front lines. 

1953 – Removes ropes separating blacks and whites at Chattanooga Crusade.

1954 – Holds Greater London Crusade; preaches also in Finland, Sweden, Germany, Netherlands, France.

1956 – Launches Christianity Today magazine.

1957 – Holds crusade in Madison Square Garden for unprecedented 16 weeks; welcomes Martin Luther King Jr. to his platform. 

1960 – Gives invocation at political rally for Richard Nixon. 

1965 – President Lyndon Johnson attends Houston Crusade. 

1966 – Gives keynote address at World Congress on Evangelism in Berlin.

1969 – Shares Lyndon Johnson’s last night in the White House; holds first White House church service for Richard Nixon.

1973 – Holds integrated evangelistic meetings in South Africa. 

1973 – After Key ’73 controversy over plans to convert Jews, says he does not feel called to target Jews in evangelism.

1974 – Convenes International Conference on World Evangelization in Lausanne, Switzerland. 

1977 – Receives National Interreligious Award from American Jewish Committee. 

1980 – Billy Graham Center dedicated at Wheaton College. 

1982 – During USSR trip, says there is “a measure of religious freedom” there; controversy erupts. 

1982 –Receives Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion. 

1985 – Discusses being born again with George W. Bush while vacationing at Kennebunkport; future president is converted.

1986 – Holds Amsterdam Conference for Itinerant Evangelists.

1989 – Prays at inauguration of George H. W. Bush. 

1989 – Holds Mission ’89 in London; meets top British leaders. 

1989 – Receives star on Hollywood Walk of Fame.

1991 – Spends night before Operation Desert Storm begins with George and Barbara Bush. 

1991 –Holds Buenos Aires Crusade as part of television and video outreach to 20 countries.

1992 – Visits North Korea; lectures at Kim Il-Sung University. 

1992 –Holds Moscow Crusade; preaches in Moscow Central Baptist Church.

1993 – Spends last night of George H. W. Bush’s presidency in the White House; prays next day at first inauguration of
President Bill Clinton.

1993 –Holds Pro-Christ crusade in Germany, reaching largest audience yet through satellite. 

1994 – Visits Japan, China, and North Korea; attends house church in Beijing.

1994 –Preaches funeral service for President Richard M. Nixon. 

1995 – Expands evangelistic audience through technology to as many as 1 billion during Puerto Rico Crusade. 

1995 – Speaks at memorial service following Oklahoma City bombing. 

1995 – Collapses just before Toronto Crusade; announces that son Franklin will replace him when he dies or becomes incapacitated.

1996 – Receives Congressional Gold Medal together with Ruth Bell Graham. 

1998 – Addresses TED conference on technology and spirituality.

2000 – Convenes Amsterdam Conference for 10,000 evangelists. Illness prevents him from attending. 

2001 – Franklin stands in for his indisposed father at George W. Bush’s inauguration. 

2001 – Preaches at post-9/11 service at National Cathedral.

2002– Anti-Jewish comments from tapes of 1972 conversation with Richard Nixon made public. Graham apologizes, mends fences with Jewish leaders. 

2005 – Holds “last crusade” in New York City. 

2007 – Billy Graham Library opens in Charlotte, NC. 

2007 – Ruth Bell Graham dies.

2010 – Prays with Barack Obama in his Montreat home.

2012 – Meets with Mitt Romney.

2013 – Marks 95th birthday with My Hope digital and home-based evangelistic campaign; 22,000 churches participate. 

2013 – Singer George Beverly Shea, Graham’s first team member, dies at age 104.

By the editors

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #111 in 2014]

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