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Billy Graham's Australian Crusades 1959

Updated on January 24, 2013
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Bronwen was a teacher for over forty years. Degrees include School Librarianship, Psycholinguistics and Theology, and Applied Linguistics.

Part of the vast crowds
Part of the vast crowds | Source

The Melbourne Crusade

It was an in-between time for my husband and me. We were on the brink of our own great Christian adventure. Andrew continued teaching at the School for the Deaf until the last moment. We had almost finished packing everything for ourselves and our two little girls, ready to travel to George Brown Missionary Training College in Sydney and were practically living out of our suitcases. We had taken all our winter things, books and other possessions we would not need in warmer climes to store in our holiday place in Kangaroo Ground. Our home was nearly ready to let to some friends, so it could keep paying off the mortgage. At the Christmas breakup my husband had relinquished his position as Superintendent of a Sunday School that had nearly doubled in size.

  • The Choir: Our Church Choir, of which I was a member, had practised assiduously as we prepared for the Melbourne Billy Graham Crusade. The air was filled with expectation. In evening prayer-meetings we were praying that the Crusade would herald a great revival across the whole of Australia. My great-grandfather and his brothers, Cornish hard-rock miners, had been involved in a revival in the goldfield mines around Castlemaine and we knew what a wonderful change it could make in people's lives. Many people attended church in those days because it was the thing to do, but they had not made a personal commitment. It was wonderful being part of that great Choir and to hear so many people singing the hymns, and, of course, Cliff Barrows' beautiful voice. I still have my Billy Graham Crusade Songs (1959). There were seventy-four hymns in it; beginning with 'Blessed Assurance' and ended with 'To God be the Glory.'
  • The Venue: We had never been in the West Melbourne Stadium before as that was usually a venue for boxing. It was huge but the people just kept pouring in. We were jostled apart and Andrew managed a wave as he left to take up his position. My friends and I went to join the Choir. We heard later that there were many more people than were expected and some had to stay out in the street and hear Billy Graham over a loud-speaker. It's a long time ago now, but I think that after this the meetings were held in the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Even in that big area, there were more people than seats in the stands and some people were allowed to come in and sit on the grass.
  • The Preacher: From the Choir stand we had a good view of Billy Graham. He was a wonderful, charismatic preacher. HIs message was really quite simple, but his delivery was sensational and I think all the females fell a little bit in love with him. He was on the podium with other men, I mostly remember Rev. Leighton Ford and George Beverley Shea who wrote the music for 'I'd Rather Have Jesus'. Just below where Mr. Graham stood, I could see my dear Andrew. I was so proud of him as he interpreted Billy Graham's words for the deaf community and I just loved the way he signed so rhythmically for the hymns in time with the singing. They were great occasions and Mr. Graham really spoke to the heart of each individual person.
  • The Commitment: At the end he made an appeal for people to dedicate their lives to Jesus. It was a great time of witness and an amazing number of people went down to the front from up in the stands. Several of us shared tears of joy it was so beautiful. One of my Christian friends was so happy as she watched her parents go down, hand in hand. They attended church, but were not really committed and often bickered. It heralded a big change in the whole of their family's lives, and there were many more like that, although the majority of those who went down were young - and we admired their courage in front of such a huge crowd.

Some of the people who made a decision to follow Jesus Christ
Some of the people who made a decision to follow Jesus Christ | Source

The Sydney Crusade

I think the Crusade was still continuing in Melbourne when it was time for us to fly to Sydney. My parents drove us to the airport and several people came to bid us farewell. It was only the second time that Andrew had ever flown and the first time for our girls. Our adventure had begun. When we had left our luggage at the College, we visited the Post Office and sent telegrammes to our parents to let them know we had arrived. My parents were amazed when they arrived home to find that we were already in Sydney. Such was the speed of flight.

  • Billy Graham in Sydney. I believe his message was just as successful in Sydney. While I stayed home with our little girls, Andrew and some of the other Trainees went to hear him one evening. Those who had come from other States had not heard him before and the next day at lectures and meals the whole topic of conversation seemed to be about the wonderful, life-changing impact that Billy Graham's preaching was having on so many lives.

The fiftieth anniversary of the first Billy Graham Crusade in Australia was celebrated in February, 2009, and at that time many people witnessed to the great influence that the Crusade had on their lives or the lives of family and friends.

© 2012 Bronwen Scott-Branagan

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    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 5 years ago from The Beautiful South

      I believe Billy Graham is the most honorably minister this earth has ever known. He had a wonderful wife and they both lived life as we all should and I know their days were filled with the joy of the Lord. Great hub.

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Thank you. We've just been in the car and listening to Franklin Graham, his son. How we need more like them!

    • profile image

      mours sshields 5 years ago from Elwood, Indiana

      I believe Billy Graham is one of the greatest minister's

      and evangelist's of all time. And, I love that song, "I'd

      Rather Have Jesus".I grew-up listening to Billy Graham and his crusades. What a great, dedicated Christian; and his family, too!

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      mours sshields: I agree, but in different times there have been others, such as the Sankey and Moody revival in my Grandparents' time, and Wesley and others further back. I love that song, too.

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Sorry I missed replying to this comment; I thought I had, as I remember remarking on the song you mentioned. Love it still - and yes, what a man and what a family.

    • LadyLyell profile image

      LadyLyell 5 years ago from George, South Africa

      I was never a follower of this preacher and only a young child at the time of his visit to Australia.

      Interesting reading!

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      LadyLyell: Ah! You must be younger than I am! It was an exciting and very blessed time. Hope the rain has stopped by now in Sydney, you seem to have been having more than your share lately.

    • profile image

      Brenda Durham 5 years ago

      BlossomSB, wow, it must've been a happy experience to be a part of that Choir (in your Church AND at the Billy Graham Crusade!) I've listened to Graham for years; his sermons are probably the simplest yet the most riveting of anyone I've heard preach (unless it would be my late Dad, a totally not-famous but wonderful old-time preacher).

      Not only are you a faithful Christian, it seems, but you're a good writer! Thanks so much for this hub and I'll be trying to read more of your writings!

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Brenda Durham: It was a wonderful occasion and one that I've never forgotten. Old-time preachers are often the best as they speak from the Bible and from their own experiences. I'm so glad we're 'friends' now. I'll look forward to reading more of your hubs, too. God bless.

    • mollymeadows profile image

      Mary Strain 5 years ago from The Shire

      Hi Blossom SB,

      This is a wonderful diary. I love Billy Graham and his entire family and have been to many of his Crusades. His home in North Carolina is not all that far away from where I live -- a few hundred miles. Thanks for sharing your memories.

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      mollymeadows: Yes, they are happy memories, and precious, too. Billy Graham has an amazing family and we often hear about something they have done or said. Just last Sunday our minister read us something his daughter had said. You have been blessed to have been able to go to many of his Crusades.

    • drmiddlebrook profile image

      Sallie B Middlebrook PhD 4 years ago from Texas, USA

      Great Hub BlossomSB. I inherited my love for Billy Graham from my mother. She loved him dearly, and I'll never forget George Beverly Shea, because mother loved him and his name--I have a brother named George and a sister named Beverly (not named for him). Our family always watched the crusades on television, and I still love Mr. Graham to this very day. Thanks for sharing!

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Yes, he has been a blessing to many people and we thank God that he has used his gift of sharing the Gospel so well. I don't think we even had TV when we attended the Crusades; that must have been a great experience, too.

    • stars439 profile image

      stars439 4 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

      Great hub. His words were like a security blanket. A wonderful speaker he was, and he could say such logical , and rational things that could bring hearts even closer to God. God Bless You Dear Heart.

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      stars439: The Crusades are something I've never forgotten. He spoke so well - simple and to the point. May God bless you and your dear family, too.

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 4 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      I tape all Billy Grahams shows from the past.. I watch two of them today.. I think he is a great man of God. bless you for writing this.. I love it.

      sharing

      Debbie

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Deborah Brooks: What a great thing to do! His message seems so clear and simple, but underneath there is so much depth that we can learn a lot. A great way for private worship, too. Bless you.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      I have neevr heard of this man but I certainly enjoyed this hub ;awesone and here's to so many more.

      Eddy.

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Hi Eddy, I guess you haven't heard of him because you're younger than I am, but he's still well known in the US. He was a great speaker. Thank you for enjoying it. Have a great day.

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