The night Louis Zamperini encountered God at a Billy Graham Crusade

December 26, 2014

Categories: Billy Graham

World-famous Olympian and WWII veteran Louis Zamperini’s story has become well known through the book, and now movie, “Unbroken.”

Zamperinis-LALaura Hillenbrand recounts the night, in 1949, when Zamperini attended Billy Graham’s Los Angeles meeting and had an encounter with God that would change his life forever in her book, “Unbroken.”

Under the tent that night, Graham spoke of how the world was in an age of war, an age defined by persecution and suffering. Why, Graham asked, is God silent while good men suffer? He began his answer by asking his audience to consider the evening sky. “If you look into the heavens tonight, on this beautiful California night, I see the stars and can see the footprints of God,” he said. “. . . I think to myself, my Father, my heavenly Father, hung them there with a flaming fingertip and holds them there with the power if His omnipotent hand, and He runs the whole universe, and He’s not too busy running the whole universe to count the hairs on my head and see a sparrow when it falls, because God is interested in me . . . God spoke in creation.”

…He spoke of God reaching into the world through miracles and the intangible blessings that give men the strength to outlast their sorrows. “God works miracles one after another,” he said. “. . .God says, ‘If you suffer, I’ll give you the grace to go forward.’”

Louis was taken back to the raft in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. He could see his raft mates in that desperate time and the words that he whispered returned to his lips. “If you will save me, I will serve you forever.” As he tried to leave the tent he was frozen in time. Instead of running out the back of the “Canvas Cathedral,” Louis Zamperini stepped forward and accepted the invitation to accept Christ.



Louis Zamperini shared his story with the BGEA when he visited the Billy Graham Library in 2011 for an “Unbroken” book signing. You can watch “Louis Zamperini: Captured by Grace” online now at or to get a copy of the DVD to share visit

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Excerpt from “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand (2010, Random House) / “Why God Allows Christians to Suffer and Why God Allows Communism to Flourish” sermon by Billy Graham (1949, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association)

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