William Franklin "Billy" Graham, Jr. is our legacy hero! According to the Billy Graham Center, Graham was converted in 1934 at age 16 during a series of revival meetings in Charlotte which were led by evangelist Mordecai Ham. However, he was turned down for membership in a local youth group because he was "too worldly."He was persuaded to go see Ham at the urging of one of the employees, Albert McMakin, on the Graham farm.
Graham scheduled a series of revival meetings in Los Angeles in 1949, for which he erected circus tents in a parking lot - today this has been adopted by a new radical branch of the Church called "emergents."
The Hollywood revival is considered to be the time when Graham became a national religious figure. Graham's rise to national prominence is partly because of the assistance he received from news mogul William Randolph Hearst, whose interest in Graham was that he respected Graham for being his own person and following what he believed, though the two never met. Most observers believe that Hearst appreciated Graham's patriotism and appeals to youth and thought that Graham would be helpful in promoting Hearst's conservative anti-communist views. Hearst sent a telegram to his newspaper editors reading "Puff Graham" during Billy Graham's late 1949 Los Angeles crusade.
When Billy was asked about his time at Wheaton he said "Everybody has a little bit of Watergate in him." He was then asked if he would continue to cheer for the Wheaton sports teams Billy said "I just want to lobby for God." In 1933, when Prohibition in the United States ended, Graham's father forced Graham and his sister Katherine to drink beer until they vomited, which created a lifelong aversion, in both of them, to alcohol and drugs. We think this needs to be included in the new Wheaton "Community Covenant" for all incoming freshman!As of 2008, Graham's lifetime audience, including radio and television broadcasts, topped 2.2 billion. We had one last question for Billy, Do you think students should still be required to attend chapel on a daily basis? Billy said "If we had more hell in the pulpit, we would have less hell in the pew."