Honoring Billy Graham… and His Use of Technology


I know I speak for many in mourning the loss of our beloved Billy Graham today. His ministry touched my heart personally many times and also brought my mother to the Lord through his televised crusades.

Since eQuipping for eMinistry encourages the use of technology for ministry, I thought I would honor Dr. Graham by recognizing what existing, and new, technologies he embraced over the decades to advance God’s kingdom.

Billy Graham in Tallahassee
Billy Graham Speaking at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Florida (1961)

Established Technology: The Printing Press

The printing press is a centuries-old technology that Reverend Graham used well. His first book was published in 1947 (his last, in 2015). He began his “My Answer” column for newspapers in December of 1952. You can still find these answers to your questions at BillyGraham.org.

Billy Graham founded Christianity Today magazine. (Check out the online magazine.) The opening editorial of the first issue in October of 1956 stated:

Christianity Today has its origin in a deep-felt desire to express historical Christianity to the present generation. Neglected, slighted, misrepresented—evangelical Christianity needs a clear voice, to speak with conviction and love, and to state its true position and its relevance to the world crisis. A generation has grown up unaware of the basic truths of the Christian faith taught in the Scriptures and expressed in the creeds of the historic evangelical churches. [Wikipedia]

BGEA’s Decision magazine began in November of 1960. They’re still publishing; subscribe on an app.

Established Technology: Film and Broadcasting

Billy started an “Hour of Decision” radio program (November 1950) which also aired various programs on television (starting September 1951). Find a treasure trove of audio and video files on Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s (BGEA) website.

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association made the first of over 130 films, in October 1951, “Mr. Texas.”

ABC broadcast live Billy’s New York City Crusade in Madison Square Garden in June of 1957.

Billy and Ruth Graham started a radio station, 106.9 the Light (WMIT), in May 1962 in Charlotte. In July 2005, the station began broadcasting an HD radio signal, the first Christian radio station in the Carolinas to adopt HD technology. Listen online.

BGEA began combining a call-in telephone ministry with television broadcasts in 1980.

Newer Technology: Satellites

The Billy Graham Association began using satellite technology in June 1985, broadcasting meetings in Sheffield, England, to 51 locations in Great Britain. Four years later, BGEA broadcast from London, England, to 250 locations in the United Kingdom.

Moving beyond English broadcasts in November 1991, BGEA used satellite technology and video to transmit meetings to twenty Spanish-speaking countries from Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Crusade in San Juan, Puerto Rico, was simultaneously broadcast in 48 languages to thousands of locations worldwide (March 1995).

Newer Technology: The Internet

You noticed, I’m sure, that I’ve already mentioned websites and an app.

BGEA’s website, BillyGraham.org, began in 1996. Their evangelistic site, PeaceWithGod.net, clearly presents the Gospel. According to BGEA, more than four million people have made commitments to Jesus Christ since the site opened in 2011. (Billy would want you to find Peace with God if you haven’t yet entered into a relationship with your Creator.)

Since 2002, BGEA equips local churches to proclaim Christ therough “My Hope” home-based crusades, resulting in more than 10,000,000 people worldwide making decisions for Christ.Visit the My Hope website.

November 2015 brought the launch of the podcast, GPS: God. People. Stories.

In researching for this post, I discovered:

  • Billy Graham gave a Ted Talk in the Silicon Valley on Technology and Faith. Watch it here.
  • Another app from BGEA with lots of their content. Don’t want the app? Click on the link for a ringtone of Billy saying “God Loves You” or reading John 3:16.

With love and gratitude for Billy Graham. “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master” (Matthew 25:23).

NOTES:

  • Billy Graham’s official memorial site.
  • Most of this timeline comes from the Billy Graham Association.
  • Billy Graham’s first city-wide crusade was in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1947, but the crusade that caught the world’s attention was his crusade in Los Angeles in September 1949. Billy Graham held his final Crusade, in New York City in 2005. He held more than 400 Crusades across six continents.
  • Billy Graham had a wonderful connection with Cru and was a personal friend of our founder, Dr. Bill Bright.
    • Billy spoke at Explo 72.
    • He also spoke at EXPLO 74 in Korea, which drew nightly crowds of up to 1.5 million persons.
    • Billy spoke at Cru’s winter conference for students, KC83.
  • See Dr. Graham’s complete list of books and awards in his bio page at BGEA.
  • I’m not sure if the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association will maintain Billy’s social accounts. Here’s what’s online as I post this:
  • The photo of Billy Graham in 1961 in Tallahassee is in the public domain.
Honoring Billy Graham and his use of technology

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