Home > Church History > Shaping an Icon: Billy Graham

Shaping an Icon: Billy Graham

Billy-Graham-300x181by Tom Nettles

The resolutions of Graham and his team for integrity and tenacity soon bore fruit both for evangelistic success and public notice. Mel Larson, in commenting on the Los Angeles crusade of fall 1949, captured both of these elements when he observed, “Revival flowed through Billy Graham during that time until the entire world was conscious of it.” Graham and his team had been in Grand Rapids, Des Moines, Charlotte, Augusta, Miami and other places prior to Los Angeles. There, however, the impact was startling and etched the visage and name of Graham on the consciousness of American Christianity. Writing in 1950, Mel Larson continued his appraisal of Graham by saying, “Nothing perhaps has gripped the thinking of religious—and secular—American as did the revival campaign in Los Angeles in the autumn of 1949.” At the end of that Crusade official statistics, reported that 3000 people professed faith in Christ for the first time and another 3000 made a renewal of commitment. There had been a total of 72 meetings in a large tent that had accommodated 350,000 during that time. One crowd was estimated at 15000 with 6000 of those standing on the outside. One of the most remarkable events of the crusade was the conversion of Stuart Hamblen. Also deeply moving and poignant stories attended the conversion of Harvey Fritz (a radio personality with a deeply embedded violent and dangerous temper), Louis Zamperini (a World War II hero who endured the ravages of a Japanese prison camp), and Jim Vaus.(an underworld figure).

 

 

 

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