The litany of accomplishments is familiar. Billy Graham has preached the gospel of Christ in person to more than 80 million people and to countless millions more over the airwaves and in films. Nearly 3 million have responded to the invitation he offers at the end of his sermons.

He was the first Christian, eastern or western, to preach in public behind the Iron Curtain after World War II, culminating in giant gatherings in Budapest (1989) and Moscow (1992) and complemented by unprecedented invitations to Pyongyang, North Korea (1992) and Beijing (1993).

He has been a friend to the pope, the queen, several prime ministers, and every president from Dwight Eisenhower to Bill Clinton. When America needs a chaplain or pastor to help inaugurate or bury a president or to bring comfort in times of terrible tragedy, it turns, more often than not, to him.

For virtually every year since the 1950s, he has been a fixture on lists of the ten most admired people in America or the world. He has received both the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1983) and the Congressional Gold Medal (1996), the highest honors these two branches of government can bestow upon a civilian. Thus, it is hardly surprising that a Ladies Home Journal survey once ranked the famed evangelist second only to God in the category, "achievements in religion."

Born near Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1918, Billy Graham first attended Bob Jones College, but he found both the climate and Dr. Bob's strict rule intolerable. He then followed a friend to Florida Bible Institute, where he began preaching and changed his denominational affiliation from Associate Reformed Presbyterian to Southern Baptist. To round out his intensive but academically narrow education, he moved ...

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