Crusade City Spotlight: Phoenix, Ariz.

With an estimated population exceeding 1.5 million, Phoenix is the 6th largest city in the United States. Billy Graham visited the Grand Canyon state on multiple occasions, holding two Crusade events in the Phoenix area in his earlier days of ministry. This Saturday, Billy Graham’s latest “crusade” – called My Hope America with Billy Graham – will be gaining momentum in Arizona as church leaders and individuals gather for a preparation meeting at Skyway Church in Goodyear, Ariz., to learn more about the project. If you live in the area, you are invited to this free event. We hope you can attend.

Now, travel with us to the Valley of the Sun as we take a look those historic Phoenix Crusades:

April 24-26, 1964

Billy Graham’s first meetings in Arizona took place at Sun Devil Stadium on the campus of Arizona State University in Tempe just outside of Phoenix. More than 104,000 attended the event, including hundreds of people from the Navajo tribe and thousands of Spanish-speaking people (who were able to listen to the simultaneously translated messages). More than 4,000 responded to the Gospel during the Crusade.

May 5-12, 1974

Billy Graham returned to central Arizona in 1974, a year marked with political and economic turmoil in the United States and around the world. Sherwood Wirt wrote in the August 1974 issue of Decision magazine:

“Everything about the Crusade was seemingly touched by a gracious hand. The evenings were warm and balmy; the crowds were responsive; the music was superb; the workers had a mind to work; the preaching was relevant and Spirit-filled. A power beyond man was evidently at work in the hearts of the throngs that nearly filled the stadium night after night. What was once Zane Grey and Wyatt Earp country was now holy ground. The Fiesta Bowl became a bowlful of love, peace and joy.”

Apache, Pima, Navajo, Hopi, Yavapai, Mohawk and many other tribes were represented as they came to the stadium in buses from reservations as far as 300 miles away. Fifteen chiefs sat on the platform. On May 11, Native American evangelist Tom Claus of the Mohawk tribe presented Billy Graham with an eagle headdress and plaque with the name “Natani,” which means “Warrior of the Great Spirit.” You can see these on display at the Library.

Twelve hundred people, on average, each night responded to the Gospel message.

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  1. Jackie Mendoza says:

    I was privileged to have attended the 1974 crusade in Tempe, Az. Along with several other Native American students from Southwest Indian School in Peoria, Az. An experience a 12 yr old girl, I will never forget. Sincerely, Jackie DeJolie Mendoza.

  2. Stacey Brown says:

    As I attempt to write out the story of my life I can’t help but remember the day I attended a this Billy Graham crusade as a ten year old girl. A friend had invited me to go with her family, unknowingly then, this was truly the day my life began! I received Jesus as my Lord and Savior that night. Not knowing anything except I was saved! It took many, many years before I commented myself to my Lord, yet inside me I always knew Jesus was there and real! I want to take this opportunity to thank Jesus and all his willing vessels for acting on faith and serving for the kingdom. It is nearly 40 years later and I want you know that your work was not in vain! My love for God began to grow on that warm evening in Tempe Arizona 1974 because God’s people were there and they allowed God’s love to flow through them to a scraggly blonde haired little girl that had no other means to receive God! Thank God for The family that invited me, Billy Graham and all who willing labored that night for the Lord! I am certain I was not the only one saved that night but if I was the angels still rejoiced in the heavens! Sincerely blessed through this ministry, Stacey Brown

  3. christine biale says:

    I went as a teenager in 1964. Don’t know what he said but I got up and went forward….thanks so much Billy.

  4. Jack Charles Gutknecht says:

    I got saved when my grandmother (mother’s mother) took my sister and me to Tempe, Arizona, at the Sun Devil Stadium in 1964, i.e. when I was just a 16 year old young man. I praise God for the powerful preaching and the Word of God and especially for Jesus who saved me from my sin!

    It was Sunday afternoon, April 26th, 1964.

    1. Jack Gutknecht says:

      At High School I often tried to protect myself from my fears by putting my faith in something I was doing or in something I had: good deeds, skill or intelligence though I didn’t have much of the latter or former for that matter, money or possessions which I didn’t have too much of, but what I had I’m afraid I cherished too much. But only God could save me from the 1 thing that I really needed to fear—eternal condemnation. Anyone can believe in God by recognizing he insufficiency of his own efforts to find salvation (as I did) and by asking God to do His work in him. That’s what I did when I went to hear the late Billy Graham preach at ASU’s Sun Devil stadium between my sophomore and juniors years at SHS, 1964.

  5. Dennis Andrew Ball says:

    I was there on May 5-12 1974 exactly 38 yrs to the day when I announced my run for the Presidency Of The United States at the
    University Of California San Diego history department.

    That crusade sealed my destiny to move the
    World to God for our children & generations.

  6. Jack Gutknecht says:

    I know the joy and relief of experiencing God’s forgiveness. Do you? I do! For me it is only because of what Jesus or John said [some Bibles have Jesus’ words in red and others in black]—even 1 red letter edition that I picked up, has these words in black from John 3:18 (no mater, it’s all God’s Word): “Whoever believes in him [in Jesus] is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

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