As you know, Dr. Billy Graham, one of our modern-day “Heroes of Faith” has gone on to be with our precious Lord and Savior for all eternity…for this we are thankful!
We, at Southern Colorado Youth for Christ and the entire Youth for Christ Family, are especially grateful to him and his humble service as Billy Graham served as the first full-time evangelist of Youth for Christ in the mid-1940s. Torrey Johnson, the first President of Youth for Christ, called a young Graham to take over one of his radio programs in Chicago. At the time, Billy was serving as pastor of a small Baptist church in Western Springs, Illinois. After several months on the air, Johnson offered Billy Graham an even greater opportunity – kick off the first night of “Chicagoland’s Youth for Christ” meetings and eventually, become the first vice-president of Youth for Christ International.
Success for YFC came from the promotional publicity in the newspapers and magazines owned or influenced by William Randolph Hearst. Due to the publicity by Hearst during a Los Angeles campaign, Billy Graham suddenly became a media star.
By 1946 Youth for Christ had approximately 300 affiliates in the United States and over 200 overseas. The average attendance at rallies in 1946 was 350. The largest attendance at that time was 70,000 at Soldier Field in Chicago.
Billy Graham is arguably the best known Christian evangelist of our lifetime. Dr. Graham has preached the Gospel to more people in live audiences than anyone else in history – nearly 215 million people in more than 185 countries and territories. Hundreds of millions more have been reached through television, video, film, and webcasts.
Many of his early rallies and crusades were extended, including one in London that lasted 12 weeks, and a New York City Crusade in Madison Square Garden in 1957 that ran nightly for 16 weeks. From there, Dr. Graham and his ministry became known around the globe. He preached in remote African villages and in the heart of New York City, and those to whom he ministered ranged from heads of state to the simple living bushmen of Australia and wandering tribes of Africa and the Middle East. Dr. Graham was even given the opportunity to conduct preaching missions in virtually every country of the former Eastern bloc, including the former Soviet Union.
Billy Graham gave of himself to make the generations that followed him into followers of Jesus. He said himself that, “The harvest fields are riper, the grain is thicker, and the instruments that technology has provided are sharper. I see no reason why we could not touch the entire youth population of the world with the good news of the Gospel…let’s make that our goal!”
Dr. Graham said himself: “My one purpose in life is to help people find a personal relationship with God, which, I believe, comes through knowing Christ.”
God planted these visionary seeds of, “Presenting the life-changing message of Jesus Christ to every young person in every people group, in every nation, giving them the opportunity to become life-long followers of Jesus,” to a small group of visionaries in the early 1940’s which included Billy Graham.
What began with humble beginnings has exploded into a worldwide movement. Today, Youth for Christ is made up of over 40,000 full-time, part-time and volunteer evangelists in over 133 nations who spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to millions of young people each year.
YFC continues to exist to introduce young people to the savior of the world…to the Jesus of second chances and abundant life. But reaching youth today is a holistic endeavor. Kid without parents first need a loving mentor. Hungry kids need a good meal. Incarcerated and abused kids need someone to rescue them, to walk alongside them, until “hope” has a face and name.
The constraining call of God draws Youth for Christ to the poor, oppressed, imprisoned, and marginalized. When given hope, these kids become the most powerful redemptive force our cities have ever seen. We celebrate when unlikely kids emerge as influential leaders from suicide-stricken suburbs, the clod walls of juvenile institutions, and the city cores of our nation’s largest cities to our small and rural towns.
We are so appreciative for Dr. Billy Graham and our connected history. However, looking forward, we are even more appreciative of you as together we reach out to the hurting and troubled teens in our town and Southern region of Colorado! Thank you for your awesome partnership.
For the staff and Board of Directors of Southern Colorado Youth for Christ,
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SOCO YFC Newsletters and Emails are primarily written by the Executive Director