Rev. Billy Graham preached the Gospel to more people in live audiences than anyone else in history—nearly 215 million people in more than 185 countries and territories. He reached millions more through TV, video, film, the internet and 34 books – including his memoir, Just As I Am. Yet, the book may not have come to be without persistent urging from friends and family, and Billy’s wife, Ruth. In fact, in the preface of Just As I Am, Graham opens by writing, “To be honest, I never thought I would write this book.” After 10 years of writing (and decades of ‘notes’ compiled), Billy Graham’s autobiography was released 25 years ago (1997) and remained on TheNew York Times best-seller list for 18 weeks.
The title “Just As I Am” comes from the hymn with the same name and was a familiar part of the evangelistic outreaches Billy Graham led for more than 60 years.
In an interview with CBS following the release of the book, Billy Graham said this about the title:
“…In our crusades at the end of the message I give an invitation for people to commit their lives to Christ. We usually have the choir sing in the background Just As I Am. It’s a song that was written many years ago and it has special meaning to all of us because they don’t have to go home and rearrange their lives; they can come just as they are, no matter how they are dressed, no matter what language they speak or what their sins are in their background. They come to Christ and He puts His arms of love around them, forgives them and changes them.”
In the autobiography, Billy Graham recounts his life—from time spent growing up on his parents dairy farm to meeting his beloved wife, Ruth Bell Graham. The book also shares insight on the times Graham met with world leaders, including every sitting U.S. President from Harry Truman to Barack Obama. Just As I Am also recounts the milestones in the ministry of Billy Graham from his own calling into ministry, to the watershed moment in Los Angeles that launched him into the international spotlight, to leading the nation in mourning and reflection following the attacks of 9/11.
Billy Graham’s reliance on God’s direction and leading in his life, allowed him to be used by God to reach millions with the message of hope and love of Jesus Christ.
Today, we are taking a look back at some of the pieces that highlighted the release of Just As I Am.