In 1944, Graham was headed toward a military career himself as a chaplain in the Army when a severe case of mumps disqualified him. However, his dedication to the armed forces never wavered, and he spent substantial time abroad ministering to troops.
In 1952, Graham traveled to Korea to spend Christmas with the American service members stationed there for the war. While in country, Graham took time not only to preach and share God’s word with the troops, but also to visit the wounded in the hospital and minister to service members one-on-one. The trip was profoundly influential on Graham, and he wrote of his time there, “I wept more in Korea than in all the past several years put together. These experiences changed my life. I could never be quite the same again — I felt sadder, older. I felt as though I had gone in a boy and come out a man.”
“The Ministry” gallery features items from Graham’s trip, including the heavy boots he was issued for Korea’s 30-below weather, the cross he wore on his hat to signify his work as a chaplain, and the book he eventually wrote based on his time in Korea, titled, “I Saw Your Sons at War.”
Guests of the Library can also find memorabilia in the exhibit from Graham’s time in Vietnam where he spent two Christmases with troops during wartime. General William C. Westmoreland, commanding general of the American forces in Vietnam, invited Graham to preach and minister to service members stationed there and Graham gladly accepted.
During his visits, he spent time visiting troops on aircraft carriers, at air bases, in hospitals and even at jungle outposts. Upon his return to the States, Graham said, “These men were daily facing death for the sake of their country and freedom. As I gave invitations for them to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, hundreds raised their hands in front of their buddies. Many were weeping unashamedly — men who had faced death just hours before.”
On the rest of the Journey of Faith tour, visitors can explore the broad scope of Graham’s ministry, including the 1949 Crusade in Los Angeles that thrust him onto the national scene; his vibrant relationship with his late wife, Ruth Bell Graham; his pioneering use of radio, television and motion pictures to share God’s hope; his relationships with numerous American presidents; and his bold preaching behind the Iron Curtain in communist territory during the Cold War.
The Library also features thousands of books from Graham’s private collection, a 15’ x 31’ mural titled “The Cross” and a prayer room. While visiting, guests can enjoy a delicious meal at the Graham Brothers Dairy Bar, which features tasty selections like Mother Graham’s chicken salad, fresh ice cream, milkshakes, and homemade pound-cake. Ruth’s Attic bookstore carries books by Graham family members and others, as well as unique apparel and gifts. Billy Graham’s childhood home, which sits just in front of the Library, has been fully restored and is open to visitors.
The Billy Graham Library calendar is full of events for guests to enjoy. In July, it will honor all those who have served or are serving in our nation’s armed forces with a special exclusive gift for those who visit.
On Saturday, Sept. 13, the Library will host its second annual Men’s Breakfast and Tour. This encouraging time includes a buffet breakfast, an uplifting message, and time for fellowship and fun. This event is $15 a person, and advance reservations and payment are required. Call 704-401-3263 for more details or to reserve your spot.
Throughout the year, there are events designed specifically for men, women, children and families. There’s always something exciting happening.
The Library has welcomed more than 800,000 visitors since its opening in 2007. One of those recent visitors was William McCahen, a 94-year old World War II veteran. Mr. McCahen visited the Library with a group from his church and said, “Of course, I have followed Billy Graham all my life, and this is quite a place. Thank God for his wonderful life.”
But the Billy Graham Library — despite having an impressive collection of artifacts, photos and memorabilia from Graham’s more than 80 years of ministry and world travels — holds true to its primary goal, which is to bring inspiration to its guests through the story of a man who used his God-given potential to bring
God’s love, strength, hope and kindness to millions of people around the world.
It’s not about the man; it’s about the message.
“We are not lifting up or pointing to Billy Graham,” says son Franklin Graham, who serves as president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. “We are pointing to the Lord Jesus Christ.”
And every day at the Billy Graham Library, lives are forever impacted by this transformative Gospel message.