Billy Graham’s Houston-Gulf Coast Crusade

It wasn’t a bad performance, even for Billy Graham. On the day his Houston crusade began one Sunday last month, Graham had breakfast with the Houston Oilers football team, and then conducted the team’s chapel service. That afternoon the Oilers faced the Oakland Raiders. They trailed by a touchdown late in the game, when tight end Mike Barber, one of the team’s enthusiastic Christians, caught the game-winning pass in the end zone. The pass was thrown by substitute quarterback John Reaves, his first start since 1978. Reaves is also an outspoken Christian, whose response to reporters after the game was, “Praise the Lord. I just put faith in Jesus. I was saying prayers the whole game. I’m going to celebrate tonight by going to church.”

It did not hurt any that Barber and Reaves were in all the papers on Monday since Barber, by long-standing arrangement, was scheduled to give his testimony at the Graham crusade on Monday night.

Chill winds and rain kept the crowd at Rice Stadium to 14,000 the first night of the crusade, but attendance built steadily during each of the eight nights, growing to 55,000 on the final Sunday. Inquirers responding to Graham’s salvation invitations numbered 8,312. Contributions more than covered the $905,000 cost of the crusade, and the additional money will be used to finance the cost of the crusade telecasts, which are planned for next spring.

Graham expressed some disappointment in the extent of participation by local church organizations. Postponing the crusade a year was considered, but the evangelist’s schedule was too crammed for that, and so preparations went ahead.

If there is an American city that needs to hear Graham’s message, it is Houston. The nation’s ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.