Faith

Billy Graham: The man who left a spiritual legacy in Singapore

by Gabriel Ong // February 21, 2019, 1:14 am

Billy Graham by Michael Ozaki--19

Today marks the first death anniversary of Dr Billy Graham, who passed away at the age of 99 on February 21, 2018. 

Known as “America’s Pastor”, Graham was the world’s foremost evangelist whose rallies reached hundreds of millions across the world. In Singapore, the Billy Graham Crusade of 1978 saw an unprecedented number of people turn to Christ and left an indelible mark on the spiritual landscape of our nation.

Through this series of photos taken during his visit, we trace Dr Graham’s role in Singapore’s largest evangelistic campaign in living memory.

It took three invites before Dr Graham was able to come to Singapore. The first invite was made in 1958, the second in 1966 and finally the third in 1977. Here, we see him at a private dinner with his Singaporean hosts. Among them were influential figures such as founder of the National Kidney Foundation, Dr Khoo Oon Teik, who was also the vice-chairman of the Crusade committee.

Dr Graham arriving at the former National Stadium with Bishop Chiu Ban It, chairman of the Advisory Council for the Crusade. Behind them is Peter Yap, the official interpreter for Dr Graham during the Crusade. Speaking in both English and Chinese, Yap’s commanding presence and polished delivery at the rallies left an equally deep impression on many.

A copy of the Singapore Billy Graham Crusade invitation letter. 

A copy of the Singapore Billy Graham Crusade invitation letter. For the first time, churches across denominations and para-church organisations worked closely together for a national event that had a common cause – sharing the Good News.

Guests were invited to nightly rallies held from 6 to 10 December, 1978.

It seems that even with a capacity of 55,000, the former National Stadium did not have enough seats for all of its invited guests. Many settled on the grass.

One of the most memorable aspects of the Crusade was its 4,500-strong choir. Believers of different denominations and ages were united in resounding worship.

The late American evangelist preached to a combined crowd of over 337,000 across 5 nights.

The choir sang Just As I Am when Dr Graham gave the altar call, to which thousands streamed down the seats to the grass. By the end of the 5 rallies, around 20,000 Singaporeans responded to his message.

Some 40 years have passed since those momentous nights in 1978.

We’re sure to know some of the 20,000, many of whom are now mature believers, pastors and leaders in their own right. They are the legacy of the Singapore Billy Graham Crusade. Those 5 nights in December changed the spiritual atmosphere of our nation and blessed the generations that followed.

Now what about us? What will we pass on to our children tomorrow? What legacy will we leave for the generations to come? The spiritual landscape of tomorrow depends on what we do today. So let’s fulfil our roles in the Great Commission.

We’re at the dawn of a new day: Bishop Rennis on Celebration of Hope as a door for revival

Many churches and key church networks have already united in this endeavour, but this all hinges on whether there is personal evangelism on a mass scale. The Celebration of Hope isn’t just about some big event – it’s about bringing the Gospel to those around us on a daily basis, which will culminate in 5 gospel rallies held over 3 days in the National Stadium from May 17-19, 2019.

Now’s the time for our generation. See you at the Celebration of Hope.


The photos in this article were contributed by Michael Ozaki, one of the photographers present at the 1978 Singapore Billy Graham Crusade.

About the author

Gabriel Ong

Gabriel isn't a hipster, but he loves his beard and coffee. In his spare time, he'd rather be on a mountain.