The person that has most represented Christianity in a global sense is the Rev. Billy Graham. He took the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to the people in the highest places of international governments, kings, elected premiers and presidents to despots and the homeless. His stadium gatherings and his radio and TV preaching has made him heard in every corner of the earth. It is estimated that he has preached the Gospel to more people than anyone before him.
Billy Graham was born on November 7, 1918. He had a humble beginning, growing up on a dairy farm in Charlotte, North Carolina, thinking that he will become a well-known baseball star. While attending an evangelistic meeting, he had a conversion experience that changed his life. Instead of pursuing the baseball career, he attended a number of colleges and then graduated from Wheaton College. Graham took a number of jobs including pastor, college president, and speaker at youth rallies until the call to be an evangelist was cleared in his mind and he knew without a doubt that this is what God called him to do.
The two major crusades of New York and Los Angeles in the late 1950s catapulted him to the national level and the London crusade placed him on the international scene. From the late 1940s until last year he has held thousands of evangelistic crusades throughout the world.
There are a number of decisions that have made Billy Graham the person that he is.
1. He was fully convinced of the truthfulness of the Bible as the word of God. In his autobiography, he talks about the night when he struggled with God about His word and left that place having no more doubts about the authenticity of the Bible.
2. He never pretended to be what he was not. He knew that he was not a philosopher, a systematic theologian or a Bible scholar. He was called by God to be an evangelist. An evangelist has to proclaim the Word of God in the simplest terms to those who have not heard it before. Yet, this simple message has to be anointed by God's Holy Spirit so that the sinners will repent and come to the saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
3. He always saw the importance of the church. The people that were converted were always directed to connect with a local church. Because of his cooperation and work with the local churches, pastors welcomed him and worked with him.
4. He was very inclusive. He brought Protestant and Catholics to work together and he refused to have segregated gatherings. It is during these attempts that he was often attacked by people who did not want to see these things happen, yet he knew that he cannot preach the Lordship of Jesus Christ and not have people united.
5. He was humble enough to ask forgiveness when he made blunders. He had to learn that one does not hold press conferences after one talks with the president as a pastor (Truman), that there have been situations which he did not grasp completely (the religious liberty in Russia), and that not everybody that he considered a friend always acted in a Christian way (the tapes of Nixon).
6. He knew where the major temptations are for preachers and he avoided them. He guarded his travels so that he was never by himself. Thus, he always traveled surrounded by his co-workers. He received a salary from the organization that was well-published, so that no one would accuse him of becoming rich from the preaching of the gospel.
7. He was not afraid of trying new things. Therefore, he started a number of Christian publications such as Christianity Today, the Decision Magazine, a film production company and developed some of the best materials for discipleship, as well as yearly retreats for pastors.
Thus he became known as the Pastor of the nation, but he was also the Pastor for many nations of the world, as he truly was the servant of God.