This past week, Franklin Graham asked for prayers for his 95-year-old father, Billy Graham.
The senior Graham, who celebrated his 95th birthday on Nov. 7, is most known for his evangelistic crusades, which drew millions during the 60 years he traveled the world.
Yet a 2005 Gallup poll showed that 45 percent of 18 to 29 year olds had no opinion on him or hadn’t heard of him.
Here are some perhaps little-known facts about the man who is probably the most important evangelist of our time.
Graham spoke out against racism on a number of occasions. He was friends with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and personally removed segregated ropes at a Chattanooga, Tenn., Crusade in 1953, according to his website.
Graham held Crusades in both Durban and Johannesburg in 1973, about 20 years after receiving initial invites to preach in South Africa. He wouldn’t accept an invitation unless the Crusade meetings were racially integrated. He corresponded with Nelson Mandela while Mandela was in prison.
What is interesting about Billy Graham is his unflappable nature. One of the best skills a person can have is the ability to be uncompromising without being unkind, and Graham seemed to learn that balance.
In the 1960s, Billy Graham appeared on Woody Allen’s television show for an interview (if you’re interested, you can find the footage on YouTube). These are two men who, by their own admission, disagree on many important issues. You might think the interview would be combative and uncomfortable to watch.
It was just the opposite. Even though Allen challenged some of Graham’s core beliefs in a playful way, the men stayed lighthearted and disarmingly funny, while still being honest about their beliefs. Allen even said if Graham attended one of his movies, he would attend a Crusade. Graham quickly agreed.
In Franklin Graham’s statement, he said that his father had begun work on another book. Billy Graham might not be perfect, but it’s hard to doubt his dedication.
Graham held a crusade in Tyler on June 21, 1953. If you were there, give me a call at 903-596-6304, I’d love to hear about what you remember from that day.