Evangelist Billy Graham by the numbers
I’ve attended so many Billy Graham Crusades; I really can’t count them all.
I recall my first one was in the late 1960s or early 1970s, either in New York, Chicago or Dallas. You see I was very young at the time, and the faraway places seemed all the same to me then.
It was the miracle of television that brought Graham’s message into my parents’ house – and if a Billy Graham Crusade was on – my parents, brothers and I were watching.
Back in those days, long before so-called “reality television,” Graham’s crusades were televised in primetime, and it was must-see TV.
And it didn’t get any more “real” than Graham’s message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
While many millions of people had the privilege of attending a Billy Graham Crusade in person – I never did – television brought his transformative message to me and millions upon millions of others, allowing them to experience the love of Christ without ever setting foot in a large arena.
The numbers of Graham’s ministry are mind-numbing and likely will not be duplicated in our lifetimes.
While we mourn the death of Graham, called “America’s pastor” by many, we can look back and celebrate his life and the impact he has made for the kingdom of God.
Graham had enormous impact on our nation and culture. Following are numbers from Graham’s ministry, compiled by LifeWay’s Facts & Trends:
– 2.2 billion. The estimated number of people who heard him preach.
– 215 million. The estimated number of people he preached the gospel to at live events.
– 2.2 million. The estimated number of people at his crusades who responded to the invitations to become a Christian.
– 185. The estimated number of nations and territories where he preached.
– 66. The years his radio program, the “Hour of Decision,” was broadcast.
– 700. The number of stations around the world that carried “Hour of Decision.”
– 425,000. The number of subscribers to Decision magazine.
– 5 million. The circulation of the newspapers which carry his column My Answer.
– 2 million. The number of copies sold of his 1953 book, “Peace with God.”
– 61. The record number of times Graham finished in the top 10 of Gallup’s poll of most admired men. That includes making it into the top 10 every year the question was asked since 1955.
– 21. The percentage of pastors in 2010 who said he was the most influential living pastor. That was the highest percentage of any pastor and three times the second most frequently cited one.
– 48. The percentage of Protestant churchgoers in America in 2016 who said they watched one of his sermons on TV. More than 1 in 10 said they had attended one of his crusades. Two-thirds had some contact with his ministry, either through his sermons or his writing.
– 33. The total number of books that Graham authored.
– 13. The number of U.S. presidents with whom Graham has met, ranging from Harry Truman to Donald Trump.
– 1918. The year Graham was born in North Carolina.
– 1934. The year Graham responded to the gospel under the preaching of Mordecai Ham, a traveling evangelist.
– 1939. The year Graham was ordained by a Southern Baptist church (Peniel Baptist Church in Palatka, Fla.).
– 2. The number of earned degrees he earned: a diploma in biblical studies from Trinity Bible College and a B.A. in anthropology from Wheaton.
– 1943. The year Graham married Ruth Bell, the daughter of Presbyterian missionaries to China. Together they had five children.
– 6,000. The number of people who attended his first crusade, held in the Civic Auditorium in Grand Rapids, Mich.
– 30. The age at which Graham became president of Northwest Bible College in 1947, which at the time made him the youngest person to serve as a college or university president.
– 1949. The year of the Los Angeles crusade that launched him into national prominence. The crusade ran eight weeks, five weeks longer than planned.
– 1950. The year the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association was founded.
– 4. The number of months the 1957 New York City crusade in Madison Square Garden ran nightly.
– $5 million. The value of the five-year contract NBC offered him to appear on their network. He turned it down.
– 1963. The year Graham posted bail for Martin Luther King, Jr. after he was arrested during the civil rights protests in Birmingham, Ala.
Tim Yarbrough is editor/executive director of the Arkansas Baptist News.