Billy Graham

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Billy Graham is an American religious and social activist, minister of the Baptist Church, Member of the largest Baptist group in the world, the Southern Baptist Convention. For many years, he has been a spiritual advisor to the Presidents of the United States.

Childhood, adolescence, youth

Billy Graham was born on a farm near Charlotte, North Carolina. His parents, Morrow Coffey and William Franklin Graham, were raised at the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. In 1933, when Prohibition was repealed in the United States, his father gave him beer to drink until Billy fell asleep, which instilled in him a persistent aversion to alcohol.

Faith and education

According to the Billy Graham Information Center, he converted to faith in Jesus Christ in 1934 as a result of a series of sermons by the evangelist Mordecai Ham.

After graduating from Sharon High School in May 1936, Billy Graham began attending Bob Jones College (now called “Bob Jones University”), which is located in Cleveland, Tennessee. He attended for one semester but found that the College was too “legalistic” in terms of theology and requirements.

In 1937, Graham transferred to the Florida Bible Institute, which had less strict rules, but his education did not last long there either. He eventually graduated from Wheaton College, Illinois in 1943.


In 1943, Graham married his fellow Wheaton College student Ruth Bell (1920-2007), whose parents were from the Presbyterian Church in China. Ruth testified about her future husband: “He wanted to please God more than any man I have ever met in my life.”

They got married two months after they graduated from college. Ruth died on June 14, 2007 at the age of 87. For all the time they had five children – Virginia (b. 1945), Anna Graham Lotz (b. 1948), Ruth (b. 1950), Franklin Graham (b. 1952, heads the international organization “Samaritan’s Bag”) and Ned Graham (b. 1958, heads an organization that distributes Christian literature in China). The Grams also have 19 grandchildren and 28 great-grandchildren.


While attending Wheaton College Seminary, Billy Graham was ordained as a Southern Baptist minister in 1939 and served briefly as pastor of the Village Church in Western Springs, Illinois.

Graham planned a series of evangelistic meetings in Los Angeles in 1949. He set up a large circus tent in the park for these services. These meetings were such a success that they lasted eight weeks instead of the three originally planned. These meetings in Los Angeles made him a nationwide religious figure.

Billy Graham served as President of Northwestern College, Minnesota from 1948 to 1952. He founded the Billy Graham Evangelical Association (EABG) in 1950 with headquarters in Minneapolis. He later moved his headquarters to Charlotte, North Carolina. EABG includes:

  • The Hour of Decision is a weekly radio program that has been broadcast around the world for over 50 years;
  • Mission television specials which are regularly broadcast in prime time in almost every market in the U.S. and Canada;
  • Newspaper column “My Answer”, which is published in many US newspapers;
  • The magazine “Decision”, which is the official publication of the Association;
  • World Wide Pictures, a film production company that has already released over 130 products;

In 1982, he was awarded the Templeton Prize.

Billy Graham died of natural causes on February 21, 2018 at his home in Montreat, North Carolina, at the age of 99.

Billy Graham Books

  • Calling Youth to Christ (1947)
  • America’s Hour of Decision (1951)
  • I Saw Your Sons at War (1953)
  • Peace with God (1953, 1984)
  • Freedom from the Seven Deadly Sins (1955)
  • The Secret of Happiness (1955, 1985)
  • Billy Graham Talks to Teenagers (1958)
  • My Answer (1960)
  • Billy Graham Answers Your Questions (1960)
  • World Aflame (1965)
  • The Challenge (1969)
  • The Jesus Generation (1971)
  • Angels: God’s Secret Agents (1975, 1985)
  • How to Be Born Again (1977)
  • The Holy Spirit (1978)
  • Evangelist to the World (1979)
  • Till Armageddon (1981)
  • Approaching Hoofbeats (1983)
  • A Biblical Standard for Evangelists (1984)
  • Unto the Hills (1986)
  • Facing Death and the Life After (1987)
  • Answers to Life’s Problems (1988)
  • Hope for the Troubled Heart (1991)
  • Storm Warning (1992)
  • Just As I Am: The Autobiography of Billy Graham (1997, 2007)
  • Hope for Each Day (2002)
  • The Key to Personal Peace (2003)
  • Living in God’s Love: The New York Crusade (2005)
  • The Journey: How to Live by Faith in an Uncertain World (2006)
  • Wisdom for Each Day (2008)
  • Nearing Home: Life, Faith, and Finishing Well (2011)
  • The Heaven Answer Book (2012)
  • The Reason for My Hope: Salvation (2013)
  • Where I Am: Heaven, Eternity, and Our Life Beyond the Now (2015)