Amsterdam 1983: 40th Anniversary
July 10, 2023
Categories: Billy Graham
July marks the 40th anniversary of the 1983 Amsterdam International Conference for Itinerant Evangelists. Lasting 9 days, 133 nations were represented with an audience of 4,000 evangelists and 1,200 guests and observers in attendance.
“Spread out before me was a rainbow of men and women with far greater dedication and gifts than I would ever have. They were black and yellow and brown and red and white; from rural villages and towns and sophisticated cities on every continent and from the islands of the sea; speaking a multitude of tongues and little-known dialects as their first language. It was a microcosm of the human race. The largest number came from India; the second-largest, from Nigeria; the third-largest, from Brazil.”Billy Graham, Just As I Am
This conference was to show the love of Jesus to people but also to equip people with tools to evangelize. In Just As I Am, Billy Graham shares the purpose of Amsterdam ‘83
“Delegates, some of them arriving barefoot and without a change of clothes, were overwhelmed with gratitude when they visited the conference clothing center. There they found shirts, pants, dresses, and children’s togs – five hundred tons in all – distributed free of charge under the auspices of our son Franklin’s organization, Samaritan’s Purse. Twenty-five trained counselors were available to help participants deal with personal and family problems (as well as spiritual concerns) in confidential, private sessions. Books and study aids were given to delegates who could not afford to purchase them; each one went away with a canvas bag filled with a small library of books to help them study the Bible, prepare evangelistic messages, and do their work more effectively. Some received, without cost, equipment that they needed – such things as overhead projectors, film projectors, tape recorders, sound systems or megaphones, and bicycles. Recognizing that many isolated areas had neither electricity nor a ready and cheap supply of batteries, some received a cassette recorder that generated its own electricity by turning a handle. It was not unusual to see participants making their way back to their hotels and dormitories in sophisticated Amsterdam with their gifts stacked high on top of their heads. From the kitchens of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, prepackaged individual meals, including fifty diverse dietetic trays, were loaded onto ten trucks for transport twice each day to the sprawling conference center miles away. The caterers thought that one evangelist from a Third World country had strange dietary needs when he asked for a supply of large vultures; it was some time before they realized he was saying lunch vouchers! Another evangelist salvaged all the cast off trays he could for use back home as roof tiles for huts. But clothing, supplies, and food weren’t what the International Conference for Itinerant Evangelists was all about. Two hundred workshops deal with everything from reaching business and political leaders to studying the Bible and organizing a crusade. In a special program for wives, Ruth and others gave talks stressing the indispensable role of supportive spouses and praying mothers.”
Billy Graham’s mission has always been to make the Gospel known to all nations. And the legacy of Billy Graham’s mission is being lived out through the Billy Graham Library today. On a much smaller scale, the Billy Graham Library hosts Evangelism Intensives that have been inspired by the International Conference for Itinerant Evangelists.
Join us on August 31 to be equipped to spread the Gospel to all nations. This Evangelism Intensive will encourage and equip you with the unchanging principles evangelism is based upon and how important it is to “Proclaim Unchanging Truth in a Changing World.”
“And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation’” – Mark 16:15