Britain’s national game, soccer, was reeling from a double tragedy last spring. Supporters of Liverpool’s top soccer club attacked rival fans at the European Cup Final in Brussels, and 38 people died in the ensuing crush. Less than three weeks earlier fire had swept through a packed grandstand in Bradford, England, as crowds celebrated their team’s successful season. More than 50 died.
However, just 42 days after the fire, and 32 miles to the south, another crowded soccer stadium was witnessing not death, but new life. At Sheffield’s Bramall Lane stadium more than 26,000 people responded to evangelist Billy Graham’s invitation to make “a public act of commitment to Christ.”
The eight-day Graham crusade attracted more than 250,000 people to Sheffield. At one of the meetings, Christian pop singer Cliff Richard helped attract a record crowd to the Bramall Lane stadium. That night some 47,200 people—including an overflow crowd of 4,500 on an adjacent practice field—came to hear Graham preach. It was the largest attendance at any of Graham’s meetings in Britain since 1955.
An additional 180,000 people across the United Kingdom and Ireland watched live broadcasts of the Sheffield crusade. A signal was beamed to a satellite hovering 25,000 miles above the African nation of Nigeria. The signal was transmitted back to Britain to be picked up by 51 receiving dishes.
Crowds of more than 1,000 attended the satellite relay meetings in Birmingham, Dublin, Newcastle, Sunderland, and elsewhere. The broadcasts reached the remote Shetland Isles, 100 miles north of Scotland, and the U.S. Air Force base at Lakenheath, East Anglia, where the jets were grounded each evening during the transmission. ...1
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