During the 1950 Peace Rally Crusade in Boston, Billy Graham met a soon-to-be key figure in his ministry and personal life: John Bolten.
John was an early financial supporter of Adolf Hitler, but was one of the many industrialists and businessmen who withdrew their support after Hitler’s vile regime. He moved to Boston and progressively started rebuilding his wealth.
While in Boston, he attended a Billy Graham Crusade in which he recommitted his life to Christ. That was the beginning of a God-honoring lifestyle.
Billy Graham said that John developed an encyclopedic knowledge of the Bible. He was a cultured man and also an exceptional musician – often found playing musical compositions by Bach, Beethoven and other German composers.
A close friend and golf partner of Billy, Bolten was also a financial supporter of the ministry.
Mr. Graham trusted John and saw him as a wise man after God’s own heart. At one point, when Billy was struggling with whether or not he had given everything he was going to give to the world – wondering if there was more to be done – he was dramatically impacted by something John said to him. John encouraged him in a way that touched his heart and expanded his vision and prayer life immensely.
In Mr. Graham’s own words, he remembers John’s statement like this: “I can envision you preaching in the great stadiums of the capital cities of the world. I believe the world is ripe and ready to listen to a voice of authority like yours. They are in need of the Gospel. You are the man to give it to them.”
That was confirmation for Billy that there was more evangelism to be done. And he was grateful to have a supportive friend along the way.