Billy Graham

by Ellen from San Diego

  "Be still when you have nothing to say; when genuine passion moves you, say what you've got to say, and say it hot" (David Herbert Lawrence). The world-famous speaker and evangelist, Billy Graham, does just that. Through his fiery preaching, he inspires millions to change their lives for the better and accept a new life in Christ. In doing this, William Franklin Graham reveals his truly heroic qualities. Born on November 7, 1918 in Charlotte, North Carolina, Graham grew up on a dairy farm as a child, but later attended multiple Christian colleges and universities all over the country to receive degrees in theology and anthropology. Meanwhile, he gave his first sermon at the age of 20, therefore beginning his lifetime career as a Christian evangelist. Graham traveled all over the globe to hundreds of countries, leading crusades and preaching at revival sermons. In addition to these campaigns, he also kick-started his own radio station and television program to broadcast his sermons globally. Now, at the age of 94, Graham continues to preach all over the globe, showing no evidence that he will cease. Everyone has their own heroes in life; many of these idols possess qualities such as bravery, dedication, and most definitely love. A hero must have the courage to be able to conquer his fears and overcome life's trials. In addition to this, our society severely needs those who are able to devote themselves to their own ambitions; there are so many who would give up on themselves and others, never to achieve their goals. Lastly, it is passion with which no hero can operate without. Without a love for what one does or believes in, there is no driving force behind his or her actions. A hero can only intercede in a time of crisis when they have justification, or motivation, for doing so. It is these exploits that inspire so many people to transform their own lives, and the lives of others. Many people, both nationwide and globally, look upon Billy Graham as an evangelistic hero; he possesses bravery to endure the obstacles throughout his lifetime, is completely and utterly devoted to his god and his Christian faith, and all the while displays a deep passion and love for people, his career, and his god.

  Throughout his lifetime, Billy Graham has had to be courageous and strong to combat all the burdensome circumstances that became inevitable because of his lifestyle and ambitions. For example, there are multiple countries where it is illegal to preach the Christian gospel: "Even more remarkable were the communist countries, by definition hostile to religion, which gave Graham unprecedented permission to preach. These included the U.S.S.R., Poland, and China" (Aliprandini, Michael). The job of a pastor may not seem heroic or stand out as brave, but Billy Graham has gone into countries risking persecution, to continue his preaching in areas where he believed needed it most. In many cases, Graham received such a positive response from the people, the country's leaders would administer Graham permission to continue preaching, going against their legal standards. It is with this bravery that Graham invigorates so many people across the globe to stand up for their own faith or religion. Graham also had to fight his way through many other obstacles during his lifetime, such as multiple terminal illnesses that he miraculously pulled through: "...Graham gave what was thought to be his final revival sermon after preaching for sixty years. At the time, Graham was ill and was suffering from fluid in the brain, prostate cancer, and Parkinson's disease" ("Billy Graham." Newsmakers). Anyone fighting these diseases would be expected to be at least a bit anxious, but Graham was downright determined and strong through it all. Astonishing everyone, he made an amazing comeback, and continued to preach as if he had never stopped. Illnesses or setbacks to a hero's mission or goals cannot phase a hero, and Billy Graham is an ideal representation of this concept. Out of all the people who are confronted with trials like the ones Billy Graham has encountered throughout his lifetime, the brave evangelist has shown great strength and courage while jumping over the highest of hurdles that life could bring upon him.

  The dedication, which Billy Graham operates with on a day -to-day basis, is one out of many characteristics that mold him into such an admired hero. The first few times Graham attempted preaching, he failed, but his devotion to his god led him to continue: "My mind was completely made up. I have never known a moment's doubt since then. This decision [to continue preaching] gave a power and authority to my preaching that has never left me" ("Billy Graham." Newsmakers). Stereotypically, people will give up or become frustrated when they are unable to succeed in whatever they are attempting to accomplish. This was certainly not the case for Graham; he saw a need and devoted his life to fulfilling it. When he failed, he returned with a stronger determination to succeed, which gives him the power and bold character seen in his preaching today. All heroes of our day must have this quality, a dedication that will never allow them to give up on their goals. Reflecting on an eight-week campaign of outdoor church services in Los Angeles, Billy Graham stated: "Drained as I was, physically, mentally, and emotionally, I experienced God's unfailing grace in perpetual spiritual renewal. I wanted the campaign to close, but I was convinced that God wanted it to continue" (Graham, Billy). When most people would have caved in and given up in a state of exhaustion, Graham was determined to serve God's will for as long as he was physically able. The campaign was originally scheduled for three weeks, but thanks to the urgings of a devoted evangelist, it had eventually been extended to eight. Although everyone else was pushing him to close the campaign, and his personal exhaustion made is seem he could not continue, Graham refused to end it until he felt he had accomplished what he set out to do. It is because of this dedication so many people acknowledge and admire Graham as a hero.

  Billy Graham's passion is one other chief characteristic he possesses that inspires so many people across the globe to change their lives and acknowledge him as a hero. For many people listening to his preaching: " did not take long [for the people]... to identify with Billy Graham's charismatic and heartfelt gospel sermons" ("Billy Graham Biography." If one had ever heard one of Graham's sermons in person, they would have been blown away at the unparalleled love he has for what he does. And although Graham is both brave and devoted to his evangelism, it is his tenacious love and passion for his faith which initially drives him to be the evangelist everyone admires today. It is the love he retains for people and his god that others can relate and identify with, and is the reason so many people can identify him as someone deserving the title of a hero. Describing Graham's pattern of preaching at one of his many sermons, he is pictured to be: "...rising to his toes to drive home a point, clenching his fists, stabbing his finger at the sky and straining to get his words to the furthermost corners of the tent" (Graham, Billy). I believe this is simply someone's best interpretation of the unprecedented passion Graham preaches with, for it would be difficult to describe. Those who have been lucky enough to hear Billy Graham preach, or have read enough about him to know his story, could agree the roots of his success and the integrity of his character flows from his underlying passion for his faith. Graham's evangelism has inspired so many people, but if it were not for the love that radiates to all those around him, and continues to push him forward, he would not be the hero we know today.

  All over the globe, Billy Graham is recognized as an evangelistic hero who has the courage to overcome his trials, do so with complete devotion to his life's goals, and all the while features his deep personal passion for his god. Graham believes that: "the great crowds are meaningless. The thing that counts is what happens in the hearts of men. What good my ministry has done I'll never know until I get to heaven" ("Billy Graham." Newsmakers). Graham has shown astonishing character all throughout his lifetime; we see it in how he responded to the obstacles that met him along the way, at every stage in his journey. Throughout these trials, not once did he retreat from his dedicated mindset, believing decisively that his mission to spread the gospel and help others was, and still is, of uttermost importance. Most importantly, however, it is the passion he possesses that inspires and invigorates his worldwide audience today. Without the love Graham has for his god, he would be without the driving force that gives him the strong and bold character we all admire. Through his personality and disposition, Billy Graham has the ability to transform us; his unparalleled character shines into everyone who hears him speak. From my personal perspective as a Christian, Graham is especially significant for me. I believe he leads a close-to-perfect example of who we should try to be as Christians, and how we should allow God to work through our lives for the better. His excellent character, alongside the amazing things he has done for our society and culture as a whole, is what makes him so influential towards me, and those all around me. He once said: "My one purpose in life is to help people find a personal relationship with God, which, I believe, comes through knowing Christ" ("Billy Graham - Profile"). Graham has most definitely done that for me; he has changed my life by helping me understand what it means to be courageous throughout my life, devoted to my faith, and loving to everyone. It is because of this that I admire and acknowledge him as a true hero. "Be still when you have nothing to say; when genuine passion moves you, say what you've got to say, and say it hot." It is as if David Laurence were speaking to Billy Graham face to face; this quote seems to encompass Graham's life perfectly. However, Billy Graham has never been still. "Genuine passion" has been gushing through his body his entire life, and has poured out to move him, and 215 million others, along the way.

Works Consulted

Aliprandini, Michael. "Billy Graham." Billy Graham (2005): 1. Biography Reference Center. Web. 30 Mar. 2013.

"Billy Graham Biography." A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 21 Mar. 2013.

"Billy Graham." Newsmakers. Detroit: Gale, 1992. Biography In Context. Web. 21 Mar. 2013.

"Billy Graham - Profile." Billy Graham - Profile. Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 2013. Web. 31 Mar. 2013.

Graham, Billy. Just as I Am: The Autobiography of Billy Graham. New York: HarperOne, 2007. Print.

Page created on 4/19/2013 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 4/19/2013 12:00:00 AM

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Related Links - This website has an in-depth story of Billy Graham's life.
Billy Graham Evangelistic Association - The BGEA was founded by Billy Graham and spreads what he is doing to the rest of the world.
The Billy Graham Library - This organization supports Billy Graham and his legacy
ChristianityToday Library - The website contains an in-depth article on Billy Graham's life.