News letter from Billy Graham to his supporters in
the United States
about his 1946-1947 evangelistic tour of the British isles for Youth for Christ.
January 21, 1947
Collection 285, Box 28, Folder 5
Click here to return to "I Learned to Look Straight at Them," The Apprenticeship of Billy Graham, 1938-1949
NEWS LETTER #7
January 21, l947
Dear Prayer Partners:
Bradford: In our last news letter, we were just leaving the
city of Geneva, Switzerland, after four wonderful days of rest and glorious
fellowship with the people of God. However, our hearts were desperately burdened
for the people of the Continent who are hungering for the Gospel of Jesus
We made our way by train and boat to London for our next engagement in the city of Bradford which was to begin on January the 4th. Due to heavy fogs, we missed our London connection and arrived in Bradford too late for our first meeting, We arrived about 11:30 at night which I think was the coldest night I have ever spent in Britain. Our friends met us and told us that the building had been filled to capacity to receive us and that there was tremendous disappointment that we had not arrived in time, This was the first engagement that we have missed since we have been on this tour, The next day was stormy and blustery, snowing, sleeting and raining with a howling wind and with little heat in the rooms. It was quite different from the South of France and lovely Switzerland, yet our heart were filled With glorious expectancy of getting back in harness and preaching and singing the Gospel once again.
That morning we had a service at one of the largest Baptist Churches and then that evening in the Town Hall. Then we arrived,: we found it was filled to capacity and when we gave the invitation many came streaming forward to make decisions for Jesus Christ. What a thrill it was to preach in English again. I had been using my hands to speak with so long on the continent that I had almost forgotten how to talk in English, but I found after an absence of these several days that the Power of the Holy Spirit was still there and that He had lost none of His ancient touch,
Monday we met with a number of leaders and described to them the various methods and techniques of YOUTH FOR CHRIST. In the evening, we were once again in the Town Hall. It was filled with hundreds of expectant and hungry souls who were tired of formalism and1 ritualism and were seeking something that has life and joy and thrill. That night many found it as they came to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Eastbourne: Next morning, bidding our friends goodbye though they had begged us to stay the balance of the week, we made our way southward to Eastbourne where we were met by our good friend, Mr. Lewis Ford and Mr. Cecil Baker who took us immediately to a lovely resort hotel on the English Channel.
The following day, we began the first preliminary British YOUTH FOR CHRIST Conference. Gavin Hamilton and I had called together some twenty leaders from every part of Great Britain and Ireland to discuss the tragic spiritual need of the British Isles, also to discuss new techniques end methods of youth evangelism. It was also in our hearts to challenge them with the idea of having a larger conference the latter part of March in which hundreds of leaders would be glad to come to discuss every phase of evangelism and particularly its relationship to the ever-growing British YOUTH FOR CHRIST movement. We had leaders from the Church of England, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian and Plymouth Brethren From the outset, there was evidence of the Presence of the Power of the Holy Spirit. We had many prayer meetings and each problem that presented itself was taken to the Lord in prayer. We had our problems solved and many of our burdens lifted as we saw the Holy Spirit melt those men as one in their desire to do something for Britain.
We discussed at length the desperate need of a Bible School, We discussed the possibility of Christian Business Men’s Committees, such as we have in America, of Child Evangelism, YOUTH FOR CHRIST and various phases of youth work.
It was the unanimous opinion that we should mobilize our forces as quickly as possible as the hour was short and critical.
An executive committee was prayerfully formed to handle the many details and problems that continually presented themselves. A sponsoring council was decided upon which included many of the great household names in many of the evangelical circles of Britain. Thus the first great YOUTH FOR CHRIST conference will be held in the city of Birmingham, March 26 through 29, to which over five hundred leaders will be invited.
It was the unanimous opinion of the committee that Dr. Torrey Johnson, our International president, must be here for these important sessions. Dr. Frank Manges, the great Swedish leader and evangelist, also is expected from Stockholm to address this tremendous conference. The Rev. Alan Redpath, the great British evangelist, will be one of the speakers. However, by and large this conference will be given over to prayer and discussion concerning the various messages and techniques of twentieth century evangelism. A permanent British YOUTH FOR CHRIST office will be set up, officers will be elected and YOUTH FOR CHRIST in Britain promises great things.
Every mail brings scores of letters from people In every part of the British Empire interested in YOUTH FOR CHRIST, It is very reminiscent of the early days of YOUTH FOR CHRIST in America. Let us pray that this might be the beginning of a glorious revival that will sweep these Islands such as they have not seen since the days of Wesley. We call upon you people at home to pray. We are spending hours in this organizing work. It is our desire not only to hold campaigns in which thousands are won to Christ but to leave a permanent work that will carry on after we are gone. We praise God that He has given strength and vision and power for every task. We can say with Joshua, “not one place has He failed us.” Every place that we have put our foot by faith, God has given us the land, I wish you at home could see the need; I wish you could envision how these people are looking to America for help, not only economically but spiritually. Your hearts would be burdened as ours are if you could only fly across the ocean for a few hours and spend with us as we counsel, preach, talk and organize.
Belfast: We had been looking forward with a great deal of anticipation to coming to the city of Belfast, Ireland, for a great two weeks campaign.
We left England on Friday night by boat and journeyed across the rough Irish Sea arriving in Belfast on Saturday morning, January 11th. Mr. George [name unclear], Secretary of Youth Evangelistic Crusade, and various other leaders met us. We were whisked away to our hotel where we were Informed of the tremendous plans that had been laid for our coming. Our meetings were to be held in the great Wellington Hall seating twenty-three hundred with an additional hall seating six hundred for the overflow. Little did we realize at that tame what war about to take place. That night, we met with some three hundred leaders representing every phase of evangelical work in Belfast. We challenged them with a message on revival. Cliff and Billie sang, Gavin Hamilton gave a short message on prayer and the people seemed to be all keyed up for revival.
Belfast is a city of half a million people and is the capital of Northern Ireland. It is a great sea pert town end resembles any ordinary British city in every way except spiritually. Spiritually it is one of the greatest Christian centres of the world. Some sixty percent of the people regularly attend Church. The street-car conductors, taxi drivers, waitresses, hotel porters, business people, wherever you go have that smile and beam of countenance that denotes they have found Christ as Saviour. Then is enough potential spiritual power in the city of Belfast to shake the Continent of Europe for Christ, could it be harnessed and laid on the altar in consecration.
The campaign began on Sunday night with many hundreds being turned away at the door. Night after night during the week, the building was packed, sometime an hour before the service was to begin. Though the messages were primarily to Christians, yet every night many souls professed faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Before accepting the Belfast invitation for a city-wide campaign, we had booked two nights in the city of Reading, England, which came in the middle e of our first week in Belfast. We were most reluctant to cancel Reading as we have not cancelled a date since we arrived. We have made it a point to keep every engagement, however small. Everyone has learned that our word means just that. Thus, leaving Gavin Hamilton and Billie Barrows behind, Cliff and I took the plane on Wednesday for London.
Reading: On the trip over, Cliff experienced his first air sickness. I felt a little woozy, but though one of the motors went out and we had to change planes and the last plane was an old war-time German Junker, yet we finally arrived safely.
We took a train to Reading, a city of approximately two hundred thousand people about 25 miles outside of London. Then we arrived, we found that the leading Pastors, the Lord Mayor and various civic officials waiting at the hone of a very prominent surgeon to greet us. Among those present was Mr. O. Suttten, President of the great Sutton’s [sic] Seed Corporation. After a time of wonderful fellowship with these leaders, we made our way to the great City Hall which seats some two thousand people. Half an hour before the service began, the place was packed and jammed to capacity. Mr. Sutten was chairman of the meeting end though Cliff was sick with a touch of flu, air sickness and a very sore throat, he did a fine job in preparing the way for a brief Gospel message.
I do not think I have ever been in a meeting in which there had been such outward opposition from the Devil. We knew that the majority of our congregation were unconverted and that there was great victory and opportunity in preaching - yet the disturbances in the whole were almost beyond endurance. It started first with the microphone not working. Then right in the middle of my sermon a chair upon which a fat man in the rear of the building was sitting, collapsed and then just as I had got to my last critical point, a Minister stood up at the back and shouted, “I don’t believe a word of it, you are preaching the doctrines of Rome.” His wife pulled him down but he jumped back up and started shouting and yelling at the top of his voice. A woman stood up a few seats in front of turned around, glared at him and shouted at the top of her lungs “that man is preaching the Gospel, you are a heretic.” Thus a public argument took place. During all this, I was trying to bring order of chaos. It seemed hopeless. I was burdened that my meeting had been ruined and I knew there might be hundreds that would go home laughing and that the message would be lost entirely to their hearts. My heart was broken. I could hear Cliff behind me saying, “Lord, give him wisdom, rebuke the devil.”
I asked the ushers to take the man out. He refused to go peacefully and they had to force him out. When this disturbance was over, in answer to the cry of our hearts, the Holy Spirit moved in like a flood. I have never seen such a quietness and such death-like silence sweep an audience so rapidly. Instead of giving an invitation, I asked all of those who would like to take Christ as Saviour to meet me in a room afterwards and over one hundred and fifty weepingly came The son of a Baptist preacher, a girl of the streets, the son of a family of nobility, a man eighty-two years of age, a sailor, a soldier end scores of others knelt side by side to receive Christ and the victory was the Lords. Hallelujah! Praise His Name! God showed us once again that it is not by might nor by power but by My Spirit saith the Lord.
The next day was one of those glorious days that you write home abut and that you so rarely see in England - cloudless windswept skies - balmy breezes - a temperature hovering around 70°, I went to London to meet various leaders of the Church of England concerning our contemplated YOUTH FOR CHRIST Conference, then back to Reading for the closing meeting. That night was a repetition of the night before, a packed building and over one hundred and fifty souls coming to Christ. The evangelical leaders of the city said it was the greatest campaign to their knowledge in the history of Reading. Thus the next morning with nearly three hundred souls having come to Christ in the last two days, Cliff and I took the plane back to our campaign which we had left in Belfast.
Belfast again: We arrived in Belfast about noon and anxiously inquired as to how the campaign had gene in our absence. Though there had been a drop in attendance, there had been much evident blessing in our absence and God had been working in most unusual ways We had lunch with Gavin Hamilton and Jock Troup, the famous Scotch Evangelist, and prepared ourselves for the great evening meeting. That night, the building was packed and jammed again with many being turned away. Certainly we had a feeling that God was about to do great and mighty things in Belfast.
Then Saturday, the great and unexpected happened. The meeting was to begin at 7:45 P.M. At 4:45 the people were already lining the street waiting for the doors to open at 6:15 P.M. By 6:00, the line extended nearly three blocks; by 6:30 P.M. the building was filled; by 6:45 P.M. the small auditorium seating six hundred was jammed and at 7:00 P.M. we were informed that three to four thousand people were standing in a queue five deep three blocks long. The revival was on! The spirit of expectancy was in the air, preaching and singing was easy. The barriers and obstacles concerning the suspicions of the, people had been overcome. God had moved in and was doing a mighty thing in our midst. Then the invitation was given, many responded to accept Christ.
Sunday night, the service was to begin at 8:30 P.M. By 6:30, the building was filled to capacity. We began the service at 7:00 and during the song service we were informed that several thousand people were on the outside requesting and demanding that we have another service. We could hear them beating on the doors and almost fighting to get in to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. People were sitting on the steps, in the windows and standing all around. The corridors were filled and the big iron gates had been shut and the men were trying to hold them back. After a brief invitation in which some twenty-five or thirty responded and accepted Christ, we closed the meeting at 8:30 and let this crowd out. As they went, tile new crowd came in, filling the building once again, to capacity for the second identical service on the same evening. What a thrill and privilege it is to sing slid preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We have seen lives transformed, families reunited, old saints who had been praying for years seeing their prayers answered. In the midst of it all, we stop and remember once again that in ourselves we are nothing. We are powerless and helpless, that it is the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous.
This week, we shall probably be having two identical services every evening, preaching to some five thousand people a night and by the time the week end cones, I do not know that we shall do with the thousands that will want to come.
But people at home, my most urgent request to you is PRAY. We may be on the verge of a great revival, the hour is short, the need critical, but it has always been in such hours and such days that the greatest revivals of history broke out. We came to Britain with the assurance of your prayers. In answer to your prayers, God has bared His arm to the salvation of many hundreds. Keep praying. We have only begun to see what God can do.
Now as I close this lengthy news letter, I should like to lay upon the heart of every one of you a financial need. To complete the campaign that God has begun, we are going to be in need of approximately twenty-five hundred more dollars. The British people are on the verge of poverty in many ways. It is impossible for them to bear the huge expenses of such large ventures. Most of you have given more than your share already but once again we call on you to help in this time of need. You may send your check to YOUTH FOR CHRIST INTERNATIONAL, 130 North Wells Street, Chicago, Ill. Be sure to designate it for the British Team.
Yours in winning YOUTH FOR CHRIST,