The Archive Collection

Inside the Archives: Grande-Rio Silver Coin

April 6, 2022

During the course of 2022, we’ll take a look at memorabilia from locations where Billy Graham preached and will be locations where Franklin Graham or Will Graham will preach this year during evangelistic events, continuing the legacy Billy Graham and his team began more than 70 years ago.

During his 1974 Rio de Janeiro Crusade (Cruzada Evangelistica Billy Graham Grande-Rio), Billy Graham was presented with a silver coin with his image engraved on the front and a commemoration of the event on the reverse.

Billy Graham was gifted this silver coin during the Rio de Janeiro Crusade in October 1974
The reverse side of the silver coin gifted to Billy Graham at the Rio de Janeiro Crusade in 1974

Billy Graham always had the heart to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ through every effective means. One of those means came in the form of the Crusade events most people associate with the name of Billy Graham. Those events drew thousands of people to stadiums, soccer fields, auditoriums, and coliseums around the world and were the locations where many of those thousands heard the simple story of God’s redeeming love and salvation through the cross of Jesus.

In 1960, Billy Graham visited the city of Rio de Janeiro for the first time in his ministry. He arrived there to attend the Baptist World Alliance meeting. Attending with Rev. Graham was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Billy Graham writes of that visit in his autobiography, Just As I Am:

“I had known Martin Luther King, Jr., for several years. His father, who was called Big Mike, called him Little Mike. He asked me to call him just plain Mike. When we got to Rio, I gave the closing address for the Baptist World Alliance in the Maracanã Stadium; it is one of the largest in the world with a capacity of 200,000 people, including standees. While in Rio, I gave a dinner at the Copacabana Hotel, which—though I didn’t realize it then—was owned by my father-in-law’s brother, who had built a business empire down there. The dinner was in honor of Mike, and I incited Southern Baptist leaders from the United States to come. I wanted to build a bridge between blacks and whites in our own South, and this seemed like a good opportunity to move toward that goal… During our brief stay in Rio, some Mississippi Baptists came up to Grady to welcome him. As they were talking, Mike came by and slapped Grady on the shoulder and greeted him warmly. Our friendly relationship with Mike made the point with my Baptist friends.”

Billy Graham with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In 1974, Billy Graham returned to Rio de Janeiro (he eventually preached in nearly every country in South America). Billy Graham found the Crusade event in Rio to be particularly noteworthy as he writes in Just As I Am:

“In 1974 we returned to Brazil for a five-day Crusade in Rio de Janeiro. A quarter-million people gathered for the concluding meeting in Maracanã Stadium, a record for that facility. During the service, I could hear people beating on the locked doors as tens of thousands more tried to get in. The closing meeting was televised on all the networks across the country on the orders of the president; Crusade director Henry Holley was told that up to 50 million people saw the program.”

Crowds fill Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the concluding night of the Billy Graham Crusade there in October 1974

The Legacy Continues

In 2022, Billy Graham’s son, Franklin Graham, will hold an evangelistic event in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday, June 11. Find out more about this event:

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