In 1953, America was shaken by racial conflict and uncertainty. Reverend Billy Graham has stepped into uncharted territory, having made a crusade in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where thousands of men, women and children of all races come together and worship the Lord.
“When God looks at you, He’s not looking at appearance; the Bible says He looks on the heart,” said Billy Graham.
Graham began to fight the segregation on the street. Every evening he preached at Madison square garden to thousands of people, but black people came very little. On the advice of colleagues, he turned to the Reverend Howard Jones for help. Jones offered Graham to bring his message to the streets of new York, and the Evangelist did.
“He said, “I’ve decided I’m not going to preach to the audience, divided along racial lines”. He said, “I want”. And asked: “What would you suggest we do?” I said, “If blacks don’t come to you, go to him myself.” He said, “What do you mean?” I told him: “Come to Harlem,” says pastor Howard Jones.
Graham preached to thousands of parishioners at the Salem Methodist Church. The next week he went to Brooklyn. And slowly but surely Crusades in new York city became more United. There rededicated his life to Christ, an outstanding singer Ethel waters. At one of the meetings Graham even invited his good friend Dr. Martin Luther king Jr.
“Today we thank You, God, for wonderful things happened in this city, by the living preaching of this great Evangelist. We ask You, o God, continue to bless him. Give him infinite influence and power. Now, when we listen to him, give our hearts and spirit to be open to Your divine effects,” was praying Martin Luther king Jr.
Graham has faced criticism from both black and white. But that didn’t stop him.
“Some of the white wanted to know why someone started fiddling with these people. Some said that they would not support Graham if he will attract blacks. They said they will not give money. They used all kinds of pressure on him. But Billy said, “I don’t care. I’ll stand my ground,” recalls pastor Howard Jones.
“Some of the criticisms was the fact that Mr. Graham did not Express concern about the problems the black community and not talked about civil rights,” says Dr. Ralph bell.
The Evangelist turned for advice to Dr. king.
“Martin Luther king suggested that I stay in the stadiums in the South and held their race meetings because he apparently wanted to preach on the streets. He said, “I will probably remain on the streets, may as well kill me here, but I don’t think you should do the same.” And then he added: “You can do what is not given to me, and I what is not given to you, but the goal we share,” said Billy Graham.
So Graham did, organizing Crusades from Arkansas to Alabama.
“Here in my state, on the verge of bloodshed with each other there were a range of disadvantaged areas, and yet tens of thousands of black and white Christians came together at the football stadium. And when the end of Graham’s sermon called for repentance, thousands of people came out in tears, holding hands. It was the beginning of the end of the old South in my home state. I’ll never forget,” recalls bill Clinton, former President of the United States.
In 1973, Graham went to South Africa to preach in front of the combined audience.
Graham worked closely with presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon, urging them to ensure equality for all.
“There is a racial problem, and this problem, I think, should be addressed properly. It is a world problem. Today in America there is a noticeable improvement, perhaps more than any great nation in all of history because we are at least trying to solve the problem through understanding, through dialogue, through legislation,” he said.
So, the legacy of Graham is that filled with a message of love, Union and unity.
“I think Billy has proven the fact that in Christ there is no East or West, North or South. We just love It,” said pastor Howard Jones.