Franklin Graham preached his first solo evangelical sermon on March 7, 1989. It was in Juneau, Alaska, and it was the only the beginning.
Before doing so, Graham had to overcome his rebellious past, as well as the enormous pressure of following in the footsteps his father Billy Graham.
His first attempt at evangelism went badly. At an event in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan a few years earlier, when he gave the invitation for people to come forward to be saved, not a single person came.
But in Juneau, he was on fire, preaching one of his father’s favorite sermons, the story of the blind man Bartimaeus, whose sight Jesus restored.
According to his friends, the people of Juneau responded well. “They packed the place, drunks, divorcees, and prostitutes,” said his friend John Wesley White, who had convinced him to give it another try. “He gave the invitation and they poured down. It was a miracle and he knew it.”
Graham is the president of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian disaster relief nonprofit, and his organization has a lodge at Lake Clark to help veterans heal their marriages and relationship with God.
Since that day in Juneau in 1989, Graham has preached to more than 7 million people in cities around the world. “For more than 60 years,” said Graham, “our calling at BGEA (Billy Graham Evangelical Association) has been to ‘preach the Gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power’ (1 Corinthians 1:17). Wherever I go, whether to a modern city in Europe or Asia, or a rural village in Africa or South America, I always proclaim Jesus Christ as ‘the way and the truth and the life’ (John 14:6).”
Graham returned to Juneau in 2016 and preached at Savikko Park on Douglas Island as part of his 50-state campaign to reach every capital city in America.
“The only hope for this country is God,” Graham told the 750 people gathered in the drizzling rain. “And the most important thing we can do is pray.”