a billy graham center archives exhibit
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  MEMORIES 10
Interview with Harry Straub by Dr. Lois Ferm on July 13, 1971. From Collection 141, audio tape T3; transcript in box 5, folder 34. Duration: 8:03 minutes.

FERM:. Well, how did you get involved in getting ready for a great [unclear as Straub coughs] crusade the Mr. Graham was [unclear]?

STRAUB: I was a member of a group known as Christ for Greater Los Angeles, which was setting up evangelistic campaigns throughout the Los Angeles area for a number of years.

FERM: Uh-huh.

STRAUB: And in early 1948, we had over eight hundred prayer groups praying for this campaign.

FERM: Well, this is a fact I hadn’t heard before. This is good.

STRAUB: They had prayed for over a year, apparently futile, worthless prayer. It was getting nowhere.

FERM: They thought. [chuckles]

STRAUB: But God does answer prayer in His own time. But Billy Graham came out to Los Angeles and spoke in the South Hollywood Presbyterian Church in early ‘4...1949.

FERM: Who was the pastor? Was there a pastor that we would know? Was he one of the main pastors of this area? Well, don’t...don’t stop. I just thought you might....

STRAUB: I don’t...in fact I think Rev. [Wilbur] Antisdale was pastor at the time. [coughs]

FERM: I see.

STRAUB: But the...Billy spoke in our church. Mr. [Hugh] Murchison and I were on this Christ for Greater Los Angeles Committee. And he asked us...he says, “What is the matter with you fellows out here?” And we asked Billy if maybe he wasn’t getting too big for his britches. [Both laugh]

FERM: I like that.

STRAUB: The next day he went to Forest Home to a conference, and Edwin Orr spoke, Dr. Edwin Orr, spoke to a group of ministers up there on the complete surrender of your will to the Holy Spirit. And it was at that time that Billy Graham felt under conviction and went out with Edwin Orr for a prayer time, and insofar as he knew how, surrendered his will to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

FERM: Uh-huh.

STRAUB: We had not heard of this, but the bank called us up and said that the Jews have had a fight. You can have the old circus lot. The next day the Union Tent & Awning Company phoned and said they had found a fireproofing solution to fireproof a tent that would seat six thousand people.

FERM: I never thought about the fireproofing problem, yeah.

STRAUB: And [clears throat] within a week, that whole meeting fell right together. It wasn’t until Wednesday of that week that we heard of what happened at Forest Home. But the Holy Spirit was moving. And the minute Billy was in tune with the Holy Spirit, things happened.

[End of first excerpt]

STRAUB: He later had Edwin Orr on his platform to tell this...

FERM: Uh-huh.

STRAUB: ...and that night, you could have heard a pin drop. [clears throat] My place as treasurer was right below the platform where they spoke.

FERM: Yes.

STRAUB: That’s were we counted the money. [both laugh]

FERM: Yeah, right.

STRAUB: And many people were challenged at that time to surrender their lives completely to the Lord.

FERM: Uh-huh.

STRAUB: And a great many came forward to accept Christ that night. It was a very effective meeting.

[end of second excerpt]

FERM: You know, how...how did you handle the crusade in those days, financially?

STRAUB: Well, primarily, we made an initial underwriting and then depended upon the offerings of the meetings to carry on.

FERM: Uh-huh.

STRAUB: But most of our meetings were...had very small offerings. Therefore we had to underwrite it in advance and get people to do so by personal solicitation. [coughs]

FERM: Uh-huh. You had no projection...you couldn’t project at this point how much it was going to cost you even, could you?

STRAUB: Well, as I recall it, and I’m not too clear on this, but as I recall it we had a budget of about $45,000 for this first campaign and for the first four weeks. And at the end of the first four weeks, the Committee met and voted to continue another four weeks. And they voted $1,000 for publicity. And I just screamed my head off about wasting money like that. Well, I have learned that it is quite essential to spend money for publicity.

[end of third except]

STRAUB: [Talking about the training church members get during a Billy Graham campaign on how to lead a person to Christ] Billy Graham did not have, as I remember it, an...much of an organization [in 1949]...

FERM: Oh no, he didn’t, not anything.

STRAUB: ...and he began to pattern his organization from the rudiments that we had, and of course it's augmented a great deal. At that time, there was no advance work done except what we did as Christ for Greater Los Angeles. Now Billy has developed a very fine organization that goes in, and just as your husband is doing...

FERM: Right.

STRAUB: ...they go in and train the ministers,...

FERM: Uh-huh.

STRAUB: ...a wonderful thing. Then they had classes in personal work. There were over fifteen thousand people trained in personal work...

FERM: Uh-huh.

STRAUB: ...and that sort of thing is tremendous.

FERM: Yes.

STRAUB: What an asset it is, if nothing else is accomplished, those people are learning to do the very thing that a church member should be doing...

FERM: That’s right.

STRAUB: ... and which most of them are not doing.

FERM: That's true.

STRAUB: They are not qualified, they have no ability to work...nothing to work with. [coughs] And so that in itself is worth the meeting. But then there are a great many of these people that are very definitely committed to Christ. They are followed up...

FERM: Uh-huh.

STRAUB: ...and even in our campaign, that early day [in 1949], we would send out an invitation or a card to a church saying, “This person accepted Christ and would like to affiliate with your church. If you will follow this up please. We want to hear from you within ten days, or we will put the name in somebody else’s hands.” Well, that way, [coughs] we made it necessary for them to tend to it or else we’d see to it that somebody else who was on the ball would tend to it.

[End of fourth excerpt]


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