In 1937, William Franklin Graham, Jr., who went by Billy Graham later in life, had preached his first sermon at the Bible Institute of Tampa. At the time he was a student and he preached for eight nights in a row.
Billy Graham continued his tradition of eight night sermons, and his revival style meeting “Christ for Greater Los Angeles” garnered him media attention in 1949. As a result of his newfound fame, the following year, Graham had a meeting with Harry Truman. That was his first meeting with a United States in his President during his sixty eight year tenure as a preacher.
After discussing Billy Graham’s funeral earlier this month with my friend, and former coworker, Larry Weaver, he told me he, and his son Alex, had seen Billy Graham once before. In the year 2000, Larry and Alex went to Billy Graham’s Crusade in Nashville, Tennessee amongst the largest crowd either one of them had seen before. The crusade lasted for four days, from June 1st to June 4th, and the organizers had spent months beforehand speaking with local pastors, mentors and missionaries to prepare for building a lasting relationship with those attending the massive event.
On June 3rd, Larry and Alex attended the “Concert For The Next Generation”, which included the musicians “Jars of Clay”, “Kirk Franklin”, and “DC Talk”. They also got to see Graham recite and explain biblical scripture to the audience after the concert.
Larry indicated that many of the people in attendance were so compelled by what Graham said, they converted to the Christian faith based on his various speeches. Pastors and missionaries consulted many during their conversions and maintained a relationship with those individuals weeks, and months, after the event.
Throughout the four days an estimated 227,000 people attended.
Billy Graham’s last revivalist style crusade was from June 24th to June 26th 2005 at New York City’s Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The crusaders who attended got to see the Unisphere, a marvel from the 1964 World’s Fair, in the background. Fitting that Graham’s last crusade was within the shadow of a structure known around the world, just as he has been known in life and in death.
The newspaper The Tennessean has more about the several times Billy Graham spent doing crusades in Nashville.