The Rev Billy Graham, the world famous Evangelist and founder of British Youth for Christ has passed away at the age of 99 at his home in Montreat, North Carolina.
Man of History
Not only a prominent figure in the Christian world, Billy Graham was one of the most influential people of the last century and was regularly listed by the Gallup organization as one of the “Ten Most Admired Men in the World”. Billy led a worldwide crusade-based ministry for six decades; preaching the gospel personally to more people than anyone else in history (nearly 215 million) and was the founder of British Youth for Christ.
Growing up on a dairy farm in Charlotte, North Carolina during the Depression, Billy heard the gospel and committed his life to Christ at a revival meeting led by travelling evangelist Mordecai Ham. After graduating from college and pastoring a church, Billy joined Youth for Christ in 1945 as its Evangelist and first paid employee.
Mission in England
Between winter 1946 and spring 1947, Billy and his co-workers undertook mission trips abroad and came to England. The campaigns that winter saw thousands won to Christ and resulted in the formation of British Youth for Christ.
71 years later, British Youth for Christ is a dynamic, vibrant and growing movement working with over a quarter of a million young people every month. Youth for Christ workers in 70+ local centres across Britain engage with young people on the streets, in youth clubs, churches, schools and young offenders’ Institutes, relevantly declaring the good news of Jesus to them. Importantly, Youth for Christ continues to disciple and develop young Christian leaders and Evangelists as they follow Billy’s example.
With young lives continuing to be transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ today, just as they were in that winter of 1946, it is clear that Billy Graham’s legacy in Britain is long-lasting.
Billy went on to lead many more gospel campaigns in Britain and across the world, author several best-selling books, set up the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and act as spiritual advisor to every U.S. president since Harry Truman. In his later years, Billy almost completely stopped appearing in public as macular degeneration and hearing loss kept him at home in Montreat, about 20 miles east of Asheville. Billy marked his 98th birthday on Nov 7th 2016 with a gathering of 800 people in Asheville, N.C., and the release of a powerful evangelistic broadcast for UK audiences called The Cross, in which he gave another invitation to accept the gospel.
His wife of 64 years, Ruth Bell Graham, died in June 2007. Together they have three daughters, two sons, 19 grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren.