At the age of 12, a young Billy Graham gave his first public speech – a rehearsed portrayal of Uncle Sam taught by his mother at his school pageant. Following the experience, Billy vowed never to speak in public again. After several more failed attempts and an encounter with a traveling evangelist names Mordecai Ham, Billy’s heart was changed.
In May 1936, along with 25 other students, Billy graduated from Sharon High School in Charlotte, North Carolina. He wrote these words as his yearbook entry: “My hopes and plans for the future [are] to serve God and do His will as a minister of the Gospel.” Graham did this for more than 70 years, preaching to more than 315 million people in live audiences around the world.
Throughout his life, learning was Billy Graham’s lasting passion. In fact, later in his life when asked if he had any regrets, Billy said, “I wish I had studied a great deal more.”
Today, the Billy Graham Library has developed resources that allow students to expand their own passion for learning. Students and teachers, kindergarten through 12th grade can access free downloadable lessons. Topics for study include Billy Graham’s work during the Cold War and the U.S. civil rights movement of the ’50s and ’60s, his role as pastor to many American presidents, and his pioneering use of technology.
Resources include interactive elements and take-home pieces for student groups. Each standardized lesson plan meets both North Carolina and federal educational standards, and features suggested activities, discussion questions, and original source material for an amplified learning experience.
While the education pieces are meant to enhance a visit to the Billy Graham Library, most can be used without traveling to Charlotte. For those that are homebound – especially in this time of COVID-19 – a new, virtual tour of the Library is available online (https://billygrahamlibrary.org/virtual-tour/).
Those who are able to tour the Billy Graham Library will relive the remarkable story of a farm boy who became the pastor to presidents and proclaimed the Gospel message of Jesus around the world. The Billy Graham Library is currently open to the public, with social distancing and proactive sanitation efforts in place.
By Lisa Moseley, Sr. Public Relations Specialist for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association/Billy Graham Library.