William Franklin Graham Evangelises the Nations

William Franklin Graham was born on November 7 in 1918, in North Carolina.

Born four days before the end of World War I, Billy was reared on a dairy farm in Charlotte, North Carolina. During his childhood he helped on the family farm and spent many hours reading a wide variety of books in the hayloft.

In the fall of 1934 Graham yielded to the claims of Christ through a series of revival meetings under Mordecai Ham, a traveling evangelist. In March, 1938, “on the eighteenth green of a golf course”, he promised the Lord he would devote himself to preaching the gospel.

The next year he was ordained by a church in the Southern Baptist Convention. His theological training came from Florida Bible Institute (now Trinity College in Florida) and Wheaton College in Illinois. He married fellow student and daughter of a missionary, Ruth McCue Bell, who had grown up on the mission-field of China.

Graham pastored the First Baptist Church in Western Springs, Illinois, then became an evangelist for Youth for Christ, which was founded to reach youth and servicemen during the second world war. In this capacity he preached across the US and also in Europe in the post war years, coming to attention as a young evangelist.

He became a nationally known figure with his 1949 Los Angeles CrU.S.A.de. That Crusade was initially scheduled for three weeks but ran for over eight, in a huge tent erected in downtown LA.

In 1950 The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association was born, and since that time he has “preached the gospel to more people than any evangelist in the history of the church, reaching nearly 215 million people in more than 185 countries and territories. Hundreds of millions more have been reached through radio, television, video, film, and webcasts throughout the world.

Many of his crusades were extended, including London which lasted 12 weeks, and a New York City crusade in Madison Square Garden in 1957 which ran nightly for 16 weeks.

It is estimated that two million individuals have responded to the invitation given at the close of his sermons.

Whilst he has his critics, some saying he is too ecumenical and others that he is too Arminian, many have found the Saviour as a result of his clear-cut gospel presentation.

Billy Graham’s ministry has been augmented by his weekly “Hour of Decision” radio program which has run for more than 50 years, “Decision” Magazine with more than half a million subscribers, and World Wide Pictures which has become one of the foremost producers of evangelistic films in the world.

Many of the 25 books written by Graham have been best-sellers. He has been sought out by presidents and leaders and given many honours. Since 1948 he is the most frequently included person in the Gallop organisation’s Ten Most Admired Men in the World.

CF personal note: My parents found Christ when Billy Graham preached in Sydney in the late 1950’s. I remember attending a tiny wooden Methodist church in West Wyalong where we heard Graham by landline from the Sydney Cricket Ground. I also remember asking a man, “Where are my mummy and daddy?” He replied, “They’ve gone to the front to talk to someone about Jesus.” My parents were transformed, their marriage saved and they went on to plant churches.

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History, which I previously considered to be a little stuffy and of little practical value. I find in the process of updating Don’s Christian Diary that I am being constantly refreshed, illuminated or challenged by the lives of those who have gone before.

Wendell Loveless at the Moody Bible Institute

This is the day that … Wendell P Loveless died in Honolulu, in 1987.

“I was born in Wheaton,” he had told an interviewer the year before he died, “which is the Protestant Vatican!”

After his father’s death, when Wendell was still an infant, the rest of the family lived with the godly grandparents.  They attended Wheaton College Church, and “before I was saved,” Wendell tells, “I was leading the choir.”

He studied singing, piano and drama – God was preparing him for future service. In 1914, he was chosen as a member of an entertainment group that toured the United States for six seasons, giving him experience and training in voice, piano, dramatics, and master-of-ceremonies duties, which he used later in Christian ministry.

During World War I he was an officer in the US Marines.  He was married in 1920 (“neither of us knew the Lord,” he said) – and was chaplain of a Masonic Lodge.

But, watching his eldest child playing, he says:  “The thought came to me with terrific force – I’ve got to set a better example to my son!”

Wendell Loveless began to read the Bible – and “when I came to Romans, I was saved!”

Seeing the incompatibility between Masonic teaching and Christianity, he resigned from the Lodge.

James Gray, the president of Moody Bible Institute, invited him to join the staff in a management role.

Then WMBI, Moody’s radio station, commenced – and Wendell Loveless was the first manager … “along with a secretary – that was the radio department!”  Today WMBI has over 160 full-time workers.

In 1928 he wrote his first chorus …
          Every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before….

Others flowed from his pen – Altogether lovely …, You’ll never know real peace ‘til you know Jesus …, All because of Calvary….

After 20 years with WMBI, Wendell Loveless pastored three churches, Wheaton, Illinois; Boca Raton, Florida; and Honolulu, Hawaii, and lectured at the Moody Bible Institute.

At the age of 90 he suffered a stroke that slowed him down a little – some days, he told a reporter, he could only type 25 letters because he could no longer use his right hand.

Living in Honolulu, where his son Bob was “chaplain of Mid-Pacific Institute”, Wendell P. Loveless went home to glory at the age of 95.

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History, which I previously considered to be a little stuffy and of little practical value. I find in the process of updating Don’s Christian Diary that I am being constantly refreshed, illuminated or challenged by the lives of those who have gone before.