New American – Billy Graham, the North Carolina farm boy who became the 20th century’s most high-profile and beloved Protestant evangelical messenger, died Feb. 21 at the age of 99.
After graduating in 1943 from Wheaton College in Illinois, Graham served as a church pastor until shortly after the end of World War II, when he began traveling across the United States and into Europe, gaining fame as a Protestant evangelist.
But it was his famed 1949 Los Angeles crusade that gave Graham the recognition and favor that was to cover his ministry for the rest of his life, as newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst ordered his editors to “puff Graham” — to give him nothing but favorable press — which resulted in overwhelming positive coverage for Graham across America.
In 1950 Graham founded the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and over the next 60 years he, along with a team that included popular soloist George Beverly Shea and often featured noted Christian celebrities, held capacity-crowd gospel events in nearly every major American city, as well as scores of locales throughout the world. As a result of those crusades, along with his television and radio programs, millions of individuals professed faith in Christ…