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Billy Graham's Beginnings with Youth for Christ

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Billy Graham served as the first full-time evangelist of the Youth for Christ ministry in the mid-1940s. Torrey Johnson, the founder of Youth for Christ, called a young Graham to take over one of his radio programs in Chicago. At the time, Billy was serving as pastor of a small Baptist church in Western Springs, Illinois. After several months on the air, Johnson offered Billy Graham an even greater opportunity – to kick off the first night of “Chicagoland’s Youth for Christ” meetings and, eventually, become the first vice-president of Youth for Christ International.

“Johnson could have had any famous preacher from the city or afar, but wished to work with the circle of young ministers who shared his vision and had instinctive understanding of their generation. They were all Chicago men except North Carolinian Billy, but Johnson had not the slightest doubt that for an evangelistic sermon to youth, Billy Graham had no equal.” (from “Billy Graham: The Authorized Autobiography” by John Pollack, 1966, McGraw-Hill)


Several memorabilia items from Billy Graham’s days with Youth for Christ were recently added to the Journey of Faith at the Billy Graham Library, including a Youth for Christ gift notepad; “Calling Youth to Christ,” a book written by Billy Graham urging young people to follow Christ; a special edition of the Youth for ChristRevival Magazine recounting Graham’s Portland and Minneapolis meetings; and several promotional pins given during Youth for Christ events.


For a closer look at the Youth for Christ memorabilia and look at the highlights of historic moments in the life and ministry of Billy Graham, visit the Billy Graham Library’s Journey of Faith.


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