With his father bowing out of Australian crusade appearances due to health problems and his mother hospitalized in intensive care, Franklin Graham preached to crowds totalling 115,000 last month, his largest audience ever.
Billy Graham had been scheduled to hold crusades in Sydney and Brisbane, as well as Melbourne and in Auckland, New Zealand. Franklin Graham replaced his father in Brisbane and Sydney, where he preached at three-day festivals March 8 to 17. Festival committees in Melbourne and Auckland did not invite the younger Graham, who added one-night festivals in Cairns and Townsville, Australia.
Billboards in Brisbane played up the connection between the 77-year-old and 43-year-old evangelists. One read, "Over forty years with Billy Graham makes him worth hearing."
Franklin Graham preached that he had no special connection to God. "I was born in a Christian home, but that didn't save me."
He did have help from the home front, where his mother, Ruth, was hospitalized for bacterial spinal meningitis in Asheville, North Carolina, on March 9. In a letter faxed to her son, Ruth Graham wrote, "Being flat on my back gives me plenty of time to pray for you."
While the biblical message may have been similar, the younger Graham looked different from his father, wearing a Harley Davidson baseball cap and jacket during the rainy festivals.1
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