Franklin Graham: How a Rebel Began to Preach

"There was one thing I was never going to do—no way: preach at a crusade!"
Franklin Graham, Rebel with a Cause

 

Fear...

On a cold November night in 1983, 31-year-old Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, was asked to preach for the first time in his life. Longtime friend and evangelist John Wesley White urged Franklin to share the pulpit for one night. To Graham, whose job as the head of relief organization Samaritan's Purse often put him in bullet-dodging, life-and-death situations, the task was a daunting one. Not only did he have to overcome the pressure of following in his father's mighty footsteps, but he also had to overcome a rebellious past.

 

Rejection...

Franklin reluctantly accepted the invitation and preached that night, with surprising results, especially for the son of Billy Graham. Not one of the 1,000 people in attendance responded when Graham issued the call for them to "come forward" to give their lives to Christ. Following that disheartening experience, Graham swore he'd never preach again.

 

A miracle...

But White felt sure Franklin had a gift like his father's and finally persuaded him to preach again in 1989 at an evangelistic event in Juneau, Alaska. This time, the people responded. "They packed the place, drunks and prostitutes," said White. "He gave the invitation and they poured down. It was a miracle, and he knew it."

 

5 million people...

Since then, Franklin has led an average of seven evangelistic Festivals each year for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA). To date, he has led more than 170 Festivals in locations from Wichita, Kansas, to Sydney, Australia, speaking to more than 8.4 million people. While he led his largest Festival to date in Hong Kong, China with 423,335 people attending, Graham is committed to visiting many smaller areas where his father's crusades did not reach.

 

Good Samaritan...

Today Graham serves as president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the international Christian relief organization Samaritan's Purse. Having assumed leadership of Samaritan's Purse in 1979, Graham has seen the organization's budget grow from approximately $500,000 to more than $300 million. In 2009, Samaritan's Purse provided aid and relief services to underprivileged people in some 100 countries around the world. One of the organization's most popular projects is Operation Christmas Child. Last holiday season, some 8 million children around the world received shoe boxes filled with gifts and necessity items from kids and families in North America, Europe, and Australia.

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