Crusades for Mass Salvation
Billy Graham’s crusades – evangelistic campaigns conducted by Billy Graham between 1947 and 2005. Graham called them crusades, after the medieval Christian forces who conquered Jerusalem. Billy Graham conducted 417 crusades in 185 countries and territories on six continents. The first Billy Graham evangelistic campaign, held September 13–21, 1947, in the Civic Auditorium in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was attended by 6,000 people. He would rent a large venue, such as a stadium, park, or street. As the sessions became larger, he arranged a group of up to 5,000 people to sing in a choir. He would preach the gospel and invite people to come forward (a practice begun by Dwight L. Moody). Such people were called inquirers and were given the chance to speak one-on-one with a counselor, to clarify questions and pray together. The inquirers were often given a copy of the Gospel of John or a Bible study booklet. In Moscow, in 1992, one-quarter of the 155,000 people in Graham’s audience went forward at his call. During his crusades, he has frequently used the altar call song, “Just As I Am“.
Over 58 years, Billy Graham reached more than 210 million people (face to face and by satellite feeds) in over 185 countries and territories on six continents. The longest Graham’s evangelistic crusade took place in New York City in Madison Square Garden in 1957, which lasted 16 weeks. The largest audience in the history of Graham’s ministry assembled at Yoido Plaza in Seoul in South Korea in 1973 (ca. 1,1 million peoples).
Graham’s revival meetings were most commonly called “crusades,” and were billed as such for decades, but Graham himself began calling them “missions” after the September 11 attacks due to a potentially offensive connotation of the word “crusade” among Muslims. “Following September 11th, there was increased consciousness of other faiths in the U.S. that would find the term ‘crusade’ offensive,” Graham spokeswoman Melany Ethridge told The Associated Pressin 2002.
In 1950, Graham founded the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) with its headquarters in Minneapolis. The association relocated to Charlotte, North Carolina in 1999. BGEA ministries have included:
- Hour of Decision, a weekly radio program broadcast around the world for more than 50 years
- Mission television specials broadcast in almost every market in the US and Canada
- A syndicated newspaper column, My Answer, carried by newspapers across the United States and distributed byTribune Media Services
- Decision magazine, the official publication of the association
- Christianity Today was started in 1956 with Carl F. H. Henry as its first editor
- Passageway.org, the website for a youth discipleship program created by BGEA
- World Wide Pictures, which has produced and distributed more than 130 films
In April 2013, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association started “My Hope With Billy Graham”, the largest outreach in its history, encouraging church members to spread the gospel in small group meetings after showing a video message by Graham. “The idea is for Christians to follow the example of the disciple Matthew in the New Testament and spread the gospel in their own homes.” The video, called “The Cross”, is the main program in the My Hope America series and was also broadcast the week of Graham’s 95th birthday. In an email interview with WND, Graham wrote that “we are close to the end of the age”.
Crusades for Mass Salvation