In 1945, Youth For Christ embraced and then propelled a 27-year-old by the name of Billy Graham to the ministry spotlight as the message of Christ and His promise of transformation reached the ears of receptive young people across the United States. In auditoriums throughout the country and in cities from coast to coast, the message of Jesus was clearly proclaimed.
Throughout the early ministry years that Billy Graham spent with Youth For Christ, there was a consistent call to biblically-based communication, unapologetic confrontation of sin, and a leadership model that assembled a valuable and committed ministry team. It was in this spirit of collaboration, accountability, missional passion, and biblical fidelity that Youth For Christ was birthed, nurtured and sustained.
By God’s grace this remains true over sixty-five years later.
Dr. Billy Graham had a profound impact in the lives of millions of people. The first full-time staff person of Youth for Christ, Dr. Graham was known for his passionate messages in stadiums all over the world, declaring the Good News of Jesus Christ as God’s plan to restore us to our Creator. Dr. Graham was admittedly not the best communicator, he himself felt that there were many who could have communicated the message better than he could, but it was his calling and consistency which enabled God to powerfully use him. Dr. Graham’s humble admission gives credence to the quote “God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.”
My own personal memories of Dr. Graham were from 1995 Mission Ontario Rally when he came to Toronto. I remember reading the newspaper and hearing the news on TV that he was sick and in hospital and unsure if he could speak at the event. Then on Sunday, June 7th on Youth Night, Dr. Graham took to the stage and there wasn’t a dry eye in the building. Hundreds and hundreds of youth came forward to receive Christ that night in the biggest crowd ever recorded at SkyDome to date.
What I learned about his character and determination while he was in the hospital has inspired me to this day. Rather than just being attended to by the nurses and hospital staff, Dr. Graham took time to minister to them, to share the good news of Jesus and to pray with them. God was in control and Dr. Graham just adjusted to the circumstances.
Dr. Billy Graham is being remembered all over the world and at Youth for Christ we remember him as our founder, first co-labourer and a man who served with integrity and consistency for nearly a century. My prayer is that we all take time to reflect on the life of Dr. Billy Graham and that we would consider carefully our own legacy.
Grace & Peace,
Youth for Christ Canada