William (Billy) Franklin Graham preached his first sermon on Easter Sunday night, March 28, 1947 at the Bostwick Baptist Church near Palatka, Florida. Graham was born in Charlotte, North Carolina on November 17, 1918. He was saved in a Mordecal Ham crusade when he was 16 years of age. He preached his first sermon at Bostwick Baptist Church while a student at Florida Bible Institute in Temple Terrace. He was baptized in Silver Lake in 1938 and ordained as a Southern Baptist preacher at nearby Peniel Church in 1939. Graham graduated from Wheaton College in 1943 and then serve as pastor of First Baptist Church of Western Springs, Illinois (1943-1946).
Billy Graham married Ruth Bell Graham (1920-2007) in 1943 and they had five children: Virginia, Anne, Ruth, Franklin and Nelson. Billy Graham became widely known as an evangelist after the Los Angeles evangelistic campaign in 1949 and formed the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in 1950. Graham led in evangelistic crusades in cities around the world. Billy Graham preached the gospel of Jesus Christ to more people around the world than any other preacher who has ever lived. The lifetime audience of hearers including radio and television has exceeded two billion people
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