Book Review:Billy-the Untold Story of a Young Billy Graham…


I’ve always liked Billy Graham. I am one of the only people I know, in my age group of people anyway, who actually used to watch his televised crusades.  I have to admit that a large draw for me was George Beverly Shea‘s singing, but I am sure that Graham’s sermons planted part of the seeds that resulted in my having faith in Jesus as my Lord and Savior.  Unlike some other evangelists, I have never seen Graham portrayed in a negative light.  That’s why I was eager to review a book about him, to find out more about the man who is the evangelist. I got that chance with Billy, written by William Paul McKay and Ken Abraham and published by Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Billy starts in 1934, the year that Billy Graham was sixteen.  It portrays a happy young man whose greatest wish was to be a baseball player.  Raised in a Christian family, Billy had some cynical views about evangelists.  Nevertheless, he showed up to hear  Dr. Mordecai Ham and ended up committing  his life to the Lord, beginning a journey from a farm in North Carolina that led him to be known throughout the world.

Much of Billy parallels the development of his ministry with that of former evangelist Charles Templeton.   He worked with Graham at Youth for Christ International. The book tells of Templeton’s being interviewed in Toronto by a reporter who wants some “dirt” on Billy Graham.  As she interviewed Templeton, she found, not dirt, but much about the way the Lord opened doors for Billy to put him in the right place and with the right people so his ministry could grow.

Graham sought to lead people to Jesus Christ, and he thought that Charles Templeton did as well.  What he could not know was that his friend had suffered a crisis of faith which caused him to turn away from Christianity.  As Templeton revealed what he had been feeling, Graham told him he was having a crisis of faith. If he passed, he’d be given greater responsibility in God’s kingdom.  For Billy, it was all about God.  He said,”When I try to preach, to tell the people what Billy Graham thinks, it falls flat.  But when I simply preach the Word of God, it has power and lives are changed.”  Templeton was unconvinced and the friends then parted ways, but not before he told Billy that his faith signified the death of his intellect.  What he did not know was that Graham struggled with faith versus skepticism and science just like he did.  In Graham’s case, though, it was faith that won.

This book was written in a style that reminds me more of a fictional story than a biography.  I could tell that it was researched, though, and I thought that the use of Templeton to reveal Billy’s life was interesting, mostly because the reporter who interviewed him was looking for something about Graham to exploit and, even though it was clear that Templeton was jealous of his friend’s rise to fame, there was nothing there to exploit.  What was there was the story of a man who believed in Jesus as his Lord and Savior and wanted to lead others to believe that as well.  It was the story of this man that kept me reading.

Billy has been made into a movie, and I found it interesting that most of the Graham family would not endorse it.  I read here that some of them feel the film did “not focus enough on Graham’s passion for preaching and Christian ministry.”  The story that I read, though, although not challenging, clearly portrayed a man who sought to point people toward his Lord and Savior and has devoted most of his ninety years to that end.  If that’s not passion, I don’t know what is.


1 Response to “Book Review:Billy-the Untold Story of a Young Billy Graham…”

  1. 1 snoogybears December 10, 2008 at 7:29 pm

    Good review! I also enjoyed the book.

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