Crusade City Spotlight: Phoenix, Ariz.

April 3, 2013

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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