Tuesday, August 13, 1963
BILLY GRAHAM: Well, I think we will start and I will say a few words first by way of introduction and thank you that are here for coming. I am not sure everybody is here that is coming. I don’t know whether we should wait another five minutes or not. I don’t know how you do these things in Los Angeles. In some places they say that you’re not expected to start until 30 minutes after the announced time, that’s mostly in Latin America, where it's impolite to start anything ahead of time. In other places it is the same, but we are delighted to be here and the reason I asked these people to sit with me is because that we were all together 14 years ago when we came here for a crusade that more or less started us on our way because it was the first time anyone had ever taken notice of our ministry in the press throughout the country, and our meetings were held at Washington and Hill Streets in a tent that seated about 6,000 and very rarely was it ever filled except for the latter part of the meetings. They were scheduled to go for about three weeks, we averaged about 2 to 3,000 people a night which was considered quite large in those days because mass evangelism of this sort had not been in prominence for about a generation, since the time of Billy Sunday. And then many people had the image of Elmer Gantry when they thought of this type of evangelism because of certain types of evangelists and certain emphasis in this type of evangelism a generation ago. And we all came here at the invitation of a few churches and some business men, and they invited us here. At that time I was the president of a small college in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and was invited here to speak for three weeks before the opening of college. But the meetings were so blessed that we continued for eight weeks and by the time the eight weeks was over the Associated Press and the United Press carried the first stories about our work, Life Magazine carried two stories, Time Magazine carried two and it began to grow. And by 1952 we had to leave our educational responsibilities in Minnesota and go into this work full time. And I thought that I would be in it for a couple of years, never dreaming that an entire decade would pass and that we would still be in this type of evangelism. The men that started with me at that time are still with me. We’ve been together now for about 17 years. George Beverly Shea is the singer, and his songs are heard and known all over the world. Cliff Barrows directs the music and handles the platform and many other things that he did 14 years ago. T.W. Wilson and Grady Wilson his brother, who is not here, are my top associate evangelists (we have many other associate evangelists now with us full time) but these are the men that started with us and we’ve been together all these years and I presume that we will be together as long as we have the blessing of God on our ministry, as long as God has called us to this work.
[a little later in Graham’s opening statement in the same press conference:] And then people say the converts won't last. Well, we were here,we had very little follow-up program 14 years ago. We had small numbers of people coming, small numbers of people responding than perhaps some of the later crusades, but there are converts all over this town from that small number. This morning the Board of Supervisors had me over at the Court House and I had three separate people come up to me and say, “I was converted” - one was the mayor of a town in Los Angeles County, one was the secretary of one of the Boards here, and one was just a policeman there. All three said, “My life was changed when you were here 14 years ago.” Or one could call a name like Stuart Hamblen, whose life was changed, who became a great hymn writer, probably one of the best of our contemporary hymn writers since his conversion 14 years ago. Or Louis Zamperini, the great track star who is now a social worker in the city. Or Jim Vaus, who was at that time Mickey Cohen’s wiretapper and does such a great work among the gangs of New York. The first year after the crusade you don’t see much result. It’s five years later, when these people have had an opportunity to grow and study that you see the lasting results, because wherever the Gospel is preached there will be lasting result.