The Archive Collection

The Early Years and First Team Members

March 1, 2013

In his biography Billy Graham, Evangelist to the World, John Pollock asked Mr. Graham about the early years of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Mr. Graham responded, “It has been a Team effort, not just a Billy Graham effort.” Mr. Graham went on to say, “In the beginning we were just three or four simple people–we still are simple–who didn’t know any better than to trust the Lord.

As you take the Journey of Faith tour at the Billy Graham Library, one of the galleries titled The Man portrays the men and women Mr. Graham brought together to help him carry out the ministry of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. It all started very slowly, with just a few people, but as one author writing about leadership declared, it was extraordinary how they remained together. George Beverly Shea and Cliff Barrows continue to serve the BGEA.

When asked about Billy Graham’s leadership abilities, Allan Emery, longtime chairman of the BGEA Executive Committee, answered, “Billy is an excellent general: he’s superb. There are several reasons why he is so good. He has the gift of strategy and of vision. God has given him the idea of what this ministry can be. But I also see him as having one of those rare qualities that the greatest have–of being able to share the glory. He always shares the reward, publicly.

Larry Ross, who provided oversight to Mr. Graham’s media and public relations for many years, explained Billy’s leadership this way, “For fifty years the BGEA’s mission statement has been to support the worldwide ministry of Billy Graham. He definitely is the leader, setting the direction and the pace. There’s an obvious harmony, but it’s not because Mr. Graham is up front waving his arms around, keeping everybody together. He brought good people to the team and devised the basic strategy and overall direction, but he gives them room to do what they have to do for their particular aspect of the ministry.

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