Billy Graham Center

Who led Billy Graham to Christ and was it part of a chain of conversions going back to Dwight L. Moody?

Billy Graham was saved in 1934 during a series of revival meetings in Charlotte, North Carolina which were led by evangelist Mordecai Ham. You can find more information about Graham's conversion in the second chapter of his autobiography, Just As I Am (HarperCollins, 1997).

It is also sometimes said that there were a chain of conversions leading to Billy Graham's conversion. The most common verison of the story is:

However, not all the links in this story are accurate

Dwight L. Moody did trace the beginning of his Christian life to his conversation with Edward Kimball. For more about Moody, see A Passion for Souls: The Life of Dwight L. Moody by Lyle Dorsett (Moody Press, 1997).

J. Wilbur Chapman was not converted at one of Moody's meetings. However, while a student at Lake Forest College in the late 1870s, he attendy a Moody meeting in Chicago and after the service received personal counseling from Moody that helped him to receive certainty of his (Chapman's) salvation. Later Chapaman became a friend and co-worker of Moody's. For more on Chapman, see J. Wilbur Chapman: A Biography by Ford C. Ottman (Doubleday, 1920).

Billy Sunday worked for Chapman for a brief time as an assistant, helping to organize his evangelistic meetings, but Sunday himself was converted at a street corner meeting held by the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago. For more about Billy Sunday, see Billy Sunday and the Redemption of Urban America by Lyle Dorsett (W. B. Eerdmans, 1991).

Mordecai Ham was not converted at a Billy Sunday meeting, However, Sunday had held an evangelistic campaign in Charlotte in 1924 and a men's prayer and fellowship group, originally known as the Billy Sunday Layman's Evangelistic Club and later renamed as Charlotte Businessmen's Club (CBMC), grew out of those meetings. (More information on this group can be found in the Vernon Patterson papers, Collection 5.) This group was later instrumental in inviting Ham to Charlotte for his 1934 meetings. For more about Ham, see 50 Years on the Battlefront with Christ: A Biography of Mordecai F. Ham by Edward E. Ham (Old Kentucky Home Revivalist, 1950).

Grady Wilson was a friend of and fellow evangelist with Graham. He went forward at the same 1934 meeting to make a deeper commitment to Christ. He tells the story of these meetings in his autobiography, Count It All Joy (Broadman, 1984) in a chapter entitled "Sunday, Ham, Billy and Me."

Wheaton College has an online catalog to its libraries and archives (including the Billy Graham Center Archives). Click here to go to that catalog, where you can search for additional information on your topic. (At the login prompt, type "library" At the password prompt, hit return. Then type in "Q" and hit return and then hit return one more time. This will bring you to the menu of the online catalog.)

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Last Revised: 12/7/98
Expiration: indefinite