Billy Graham Center

Text of Billy Graham's report to the July 1946 annual conference of Youth for Christ.
From Collection 48, Box 13, Folder 37.
Comments in backets [] are by the archivist.

Billy Graham

Never before in my ten years as a Christian have I felt the power and the impact of the Holy Spirit as I have felt and have seen him operate in the last year throughout America. I believe that today we are on the verge of a nation-wide youth revival. I do not say that it is here, but I believe we are on the verge of it. I believe that we are seeing indications of ‘a revival all over America.

Mr. Truman said, in Columbia, Missouri, a few days ago, “Unless America has a spiritual revival, America is done for.” I believe that one of the great hopes on the horizon today is the great YOUTH FOR CHRIST movement that is sweeping our land.

I want to pay a special tribute today to Torrey Johnson. He has been a spiritual father and brother to me. I remember when I first heard him On the radio about five years ago. I said, “I am going to get acquainted with a fellow who can preach the Gospel like that.”

I drove all the way to Chicago, and I walked into his office. We got acquainted and from that moment on, we became friends. We have slept together, eaten together, and he has opened the Word of God to me and has shown me many wonderful truths that I never dreamed of. God has blessed our association together.

While having a pastorate in Western Springs, Torrey Johnson reached out and said, “I want you to help me in YOUTH FOR CHRIST.” From that moment on, God began to bless in a new way. I appreciate everything that he has ever done. I also appreciate Amy Anderson, Bob Evans, Chuck White, and the whole group at the office. They have put up with some of us fellows, and I owe them all a debt of gratitude this afternoon.

The One whom I thank most of all this afternoon is the Lord Jesus Christ. Night after night as I have ridden on trains and planes, many times overnight, as I have traveled this past year 135,000 miles (I got a little note from the United Air Lines saying that I traveled on the United Air Lines script more than any other civilian in the United States last year), and as I have spoken on the average of three times a day, I have constantly been conscious of the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I say with Joshua, “Never once has God failed.” There have been difficulties. There have been problems. There have been burdens. There have been mountain’s. But I have seen those mountains fall into the sea. I have seen those problems solved. I have seen those difficulties unfolded. I have seen the burdens lifted as the Holy Spirit would come in and give liberty, power, and solutions to these various things.

A lot of people ask me, “Exactly what is your work? Are you just riding around the country on planes and having a big time? Are you just living in hotels, taking it easy, and going swimming?”

Well, I haven’t found much of that. I used to travel by train and get mighty tired of it. Now I am getting tired of the planes:, because we just take longer engagements. We now go three thousand miles instead of five hundred. So I have to sit just as long on a plane as I did on the train. If you had some of the narrow escapes such as Torrey, T. W.[Wilson], and I have had this past year, you would get so that you would like it less and less too. But the Lord has wonderfully protected and guided.

The first objective that we have had in mind for my position during the past year has been the winning of young people to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I told Torrey when I came into this job, “I am not coming in to put organization first. I want that understood. I am not coming in to do one bit of paper work. My main objective is to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to win as many young people to His saving grace and knowledge that I possibly can.”

Last year, under God (I did not want to quote this but the fellows last night wanted me to) a the figures have been gathered in, there have been over eight thousand professions on a straight-forward invitation to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour, besides thousands of others who have consecrated their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ.

I remember one night in San Antonio, Texas, for example, when the invitation was given, 157 young people came to accept Jesus Christ as Saviour. Then, in Detroit, Michigan, in the Olympic Stadium, when the invitation was given, there were over one thousand young people who came on a straight—forward invitation to say “yes” to Jesus Christ.

The other day I was stranded in an airport in Windsor, Ontario. A couple of fellows came up to me and asked, “Are you Billy Graham?”

I said, “Yes”.

They said, “We accepted Jesus Christ over in the Olympic Stadium in Detroit when you were preaching. We are on our way to the Moody Bible Institute now to study for full-time service.”

I know seventeen young people out of the Olympia Rally alone who are going to school and colleges this Fall to study for full-time Christian service

I remember one night in Toronto Maple Leaf Gardens, when 20,000 people gathered to hear the Gospel. Torrey and I were there in that meeting Chuck Templeton had. Four hundred young people responded to the invitation.

One night in Norfolk, Virginia, when Bob Evans was still there, I remember. everybody thought we were continuing the invitation too long. Then down the aisle came a big, strong sailor fellow. I put my hand in his hand. I put my arms around him. We prayed together. He repented of his sins and accepted Christ. He got up with a great big smile, and through his tears he said, “You know, I am the happiest I have ever been I ‘have been struggling and fighting. I have been trying to find some way, but I couldn’t.”

That night he accepted Christ and I gave ‘him Romans 10:9 - “If thou halt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” He went out of the building. That scene took place on Saturday.

On Monday afternoon he was in a motorcycle wreck and they brought him out. He was crushed, bleeding, and dying. Just as he was slipping away into death, he looked up into the faces of those folk around ‘him, so the witnesses told me later, and with a smile on his face, he said “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus....” and he was gone into Eternity

I could tell you story after story of ‘how God has worked, how souls have been saved, lives have been transformed and families reunited all around the country and from coast to coast.

I am reminded of the night in York, England. When the invitation was given, 230 young people came to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. One of them was a young fellow who had been in Dunkirk. He only had one hand. I went up to talk with him. He told me this story:

“Out on the beaches of Dunkirk as I was holding that machine gun, as the bullets were flying here and there, bombs were bursting, I shuddered and I prayed. I tried to find some spiritual relief. I knew I was going to Hell. They told me to join the church. They told me to be baptized. None of it did any good out on the battle field. Tonight, for the first time in my life I have peace; joy, and assurance, as I have come to know the Christ that has been presented tonight.”

These incidents have taken place night after night. We have seen God work in a most marvelous way. I have been thrilled and challenged as never before.

Then, too, my work has been promoting and selling YOUTH FOR CHRIST. It has been my privilege this past year to talk to nineteen different civic clubs, rotary clubs, Kiwanis clubs, and the like about the challenge of YOUTH FOR CHRIST.

We had interviews with the police chief, juvenile judge and other civic leaders in those particular cities and compiled a few notes and statistics. we then presented the facts at these meetings and :said, “Here is what is going, on in your city. Here is what YOUTH FOR CHRIST proposes to do.” Never once have I seen it fail but what these men have actually been sold on the purpose and work of YOUTH FOR CHRIST.

Then, it has been my privilege to address seventeen ministerial associations this year. I wish I had the time to tell about some of the times I have had, the questions they have asked, and the worries they have. We have tried to help solve the many problems pastors are facing today.

There have been various promotional activities in the cities. I will use one as an example of a number in which we have been engaged. We went to San Antonio, Texas, where Billy Souther is the director. Billy Souther had lined, up all the civic clubs in town, ministerial associations, high schools, and grammar schools. T. W. and I preached in every one of them. We put on programs and as a result, the YOUTH FOR CHRIST attendance the next Saturday night was more than doubled.
I sincerely believe this fact, and it is one of my recommendations, that YOUTH FOR CHRIST in local cities needs to be resold to the cities about every six months. They get into a sort of indifference. I believe that one of the secrets in Chicagoland YOUTH FOR CHRIST has been that they gather together all these businessmen, youth leaders and ministers, about every three or four months and put them on the spot concerning YOUTH FOR CHRIST.

I told Ed Darling about this idea. Ed Darling’s Detroit rally is one of the largest rallies in the nation, one of the best established. He is trying to set it up now so that he can resell the VOICE OF CHRISTIAN YOUTH to Detroit by arranging meetings with the business clubs, civic clubs and ministerial associations. I think that is a recommendation for some of our rallies who are having a little difficulty in their various places.

Then, in addition to selling YOUTH FOR CHRIST:, my work has been in personal contacts, attending the conventions such as Christian Business Men’s, Gideons and the like. The members of these organizations are giving us wonderful cooperation.

Another job of mine has been in counselling with YOUTH FOR CHRIST organizations, helping them in their promotion, and starting new rallies. There are several men here I have talked to today, and we must get out there to help them start YOUTH FOR CHRIST in their locality.

When Paul Peterson introduced me out in San Francisco, he said, “I want to introduce the ‘father’ of SAN FRANCISCO YOUTH FOR CHRIST. We never heard of YOUTH FOR CHRIST until this Field Representative came to our city and told us about it.”

During this past summer, it has been my privilege to go to Bible conferences. This year I have been at Pinebrook, Maranatha, Winona Lake, Ocean City, and various other conferences, spending a week, not only selling YOUTH FOR CHRIST but bringing Biblical messages, etc.

It was also my privilege, as you know, to go to Europe, where we had 101 meetings in 46 days, and traveled 20,000 miles, speaking to some hundred thousand people. All of us together had some 1,500 young people who came to the saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

We have also been in evangelistic campaigns during this past year where the Lord has wonderfully and gloriously blessed.

The only thing that I have not found time for this past year has been to be with my wife and baby. I have a little year old baby, and I have seen that baby three times. One time I spent four whole days with her. I spent two days and the other time one day. So I have seen her about eight days in all since she was born.

My fourth job has been to help Torrey Johnson with various activities and assisting him in some of the work he has been doing .in the past year.

Now for some of my observations. I have been in every state of the union during this past year and in twelve foreign countries, and I have talked with people from every walk of life. I believe (maybe I am wrong) that all across America on the one hand there is a rising tide of opposition. I think that there is a rising tide of opposition on the part of certain local elements. We have lifted up the standards of evangelical Christianity ,and winning young people to Christ, and there are certain people who don’t like it and don’t want it. They are out to fight us more than ever before in certain localities.

Secondly, I think that there are subversive activities that Bob Evans will elaborate on, and it is another rising tide of opposition that we see here in America.

Third: You are going to be surprised with this fact. In certain places and by certain people, there is a rising tide of opposition from certain fundamental groups. Why? Because YOUTH FOR CHRIST at the moment is doing a job for the Lord Jesus Christ. Because of the “green eye” they will not back it; they will not have a part in it.

We are not troubled about those people because God is vindicating His cause as Torrey explained to us last night.

In all this opposition I believe we stand as Joshua stood at Jericho: We see the horses, the chariots, the people; they are more than we are. We say that we will never conquer the city; it is too big; it is too strong; it is too powerful. It is a great fortress city that we can never conquer, but Joshua went out that day and God said, “Wheresoever thou goest:, I will be with thee.” I believe this is our promise for this day, in this day of opposition, in this day of spiritual wickedness, in this day when they are fighting the Gospel of Christ on every hand. I believe that the secret of our success lies not in flesh and blood, lies not in our own strength, but it lies in the POWER OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, and the fact that HE HAS ALWAYS WON THE VICTORY.

Then, I believe sincerely that which Mr. [James] Byrnes {American Secretary of State at the time] said the other day is true. Speaking from Paris he said this: “Unless we can come to a solution of the political problems of America, America is headed for a third world war in ninety days.” Mr. Byrnes went on to say, “Unless we ‘have a spiritual reawakening and a new moral fibre put into our nation, we are done for.”

I am more sold on YOUTH FOR CHRIST today than ever before. I believe it is the great hope on the horizon today. I would not be in it were it not for that fact. I would not be riding all night. I would not be riding these planes, leaving my family, living in a suitcase, losing twenty-five pounds of weight in the last two years, if I did not believe it is the great hope of America today, to win our young people to Jesus Christ.

I remember the last day we were in England. I was riding in a taxicab. I was crossing Westminster bridge in London. There was a young man sitting by my side. He had only one arm.

I said, Where did you lose that arm?”

He said, “I lost it in the Battle f the Bulge.”

I said, “The war was tough, wasn’t it?”

He said, “It was ‘hell”

I said, “Tell me. Would you go through that same battle, that same suffering, and that same hell all over again, if the same issues were at stake?”

I will never forget the statement ‘he made:, as ‘he looked down into my eyes, with those gray eyes of his piercing to the very depths of my soul.

He said, “I would go through a thousand ‘hells and a thousand wars, and a thousand deaths, that there might always be an England.”

I shall never forget as I bowed my ‘head, tears came to my eyes, I said to myself, “If that young fellow was willing to suffer, bleed and die for England, ‘how much more should I as a young fellow be willing to suffer, sacrifice, and give, that this Gospel, which is the world’s ‘hope for this hour, might go out.”

I believe that is the sentiment and feeling of every fellow in this convention today. I know most of you. I know most of you are sacrificing; I know most of you are giving everything you have. I believe this is our most crucial year. I believe it is the greatest year of opportunity. I believe it may mean the coming back of a great national revival, if we fellows will stay down before God, keep praying, keep ‘humble, and keep reading and studying the Word of God.

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Last Revised: 5/09/09
Expiration: indefinite

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