This article originally appeared in the November 13, 1995 issue of Christianity Today.
If the record-breaking accomplishment of Baltimore Orioles' shortstop Cal Ripken, Jr., seems incomprehensible, then Billy Graham's lifelong ministry appears even more so. For 50 years, since he officially began his evangelistic ministry with Youth for Christ International in 1945—37 more years in action than Ripken—Billy Graham has preached the gospel and pastored the world.
To pay tribute to this man and his achievements, William Martin, author of the biography "A Prophet with Honor," assesses the impact of Graham's work on the world. In addition, Garth Rosell, professor of church history at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, identifies one secret of Graham's success—how he handled conflicts and controversies—in "Grace Under Fire" (in this issue). And scattered through these articles, you'll find the golden anniversary congratulations and observations of presidents, pundits, close colleagues, and friends.
No other religious figure has had such a streak, evangelizing more people or attaining Billy Graham's level of public admiration, and it seems unlikely that anyone will ever surpass Graham's accomplishments. Then again, that's what they said about Lou Gehrig's consecutive-game record before Cal Ripken. As the adage goes, records are made to be broken, and as Christians know, with God, nothing is impossible. Billy Graham, we believe, would be the first to agree.
The litany of accomplishments is familiar. Billy Graham has preached the gospel of Christ in person to 80 million people and has seen nearly 3 million respond to the invitation. He has spoken to countless millions over the airwaves and in films, and his recent ...1