Fifty years ago, evangelist Billy Graham stood before a massive crowd of more than 3 million in Seoul, South Korea, and shared how they can have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Now, his son, Rev. Franklin Graham, returns to the nation to preach the Gospel.
Graham arrived in Seoul on Thursday to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Billy Graham's historic 1973 crusade, where 3.2 million people heard the Gospel during his five-day tour.
50 years ago today, my father @BillyGraham began what would become one of his most historic evangelistic Crusades, in Seoul, South Korea. Over a 5-day period more than 3.2 million people came to hear him share the Good News of Jesus Christ and on June 3, 1973 (pictured here) some… pic.twitter.com/p88PXCn9UF
— Franklin Graham (@Franklin_Graham) May 30, 2023
According to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), Billy Graham Crusades have been held in 85 countries on six continents.
However, the crusade in Seoul was the largest event with an estimated 1.1 million people in attendance at the final service in Yoi-do Plaza on June 3, 1973.
In the end, 75,000 people submitted cards showing they made a decision for Christ because of that outreach.
"Love one another," Billy Graham told the crowd after reading John 15:13. "That is the message I want to leave you as I go back to America. Love one another in Korea."
It is a message that Franklin Graham is bringing back to the Korean people.
"This week I'm excited to be headed to Seoul to preach the Gospel and celebrate what God did during those five days," Graham tweeted.
"There's no nation in the world quite like Korea, but all the money and all the technology does not fill the vacuum that is in a human heart," he shared during a press conference in Seoul.
"People are searching and they don't even know what they are searching for but something is missing...Only God can fill that vacuum. So I've come to preach just a simple message of God's love for the Korean people and I want the people of Korea to know how they can have a personal relationship with God through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ," he added.
I told the media today in Seoul, South Korea, that I’m here to preach a simple message of God’s love for the Korean people and how they can have a personal relationship with God… pic.twitter.com/MvrKHwSn1G
— Franklin Graham (@Franklin_Graham) June 1, 2023
Graham also met with Dr. Billy Kim, a pastor who served as the interpreter on his father's tour.
Kim told Decision Magazine in 2011 that Billy Graham's crusade changed the spiritual landscape of South Korea.
"Korea was a predominantly Buddhist country, with a strong Buddhist influence within high society, government, and politics. Yet after the Crusade, people saw the positive impact and benefits of Christianity," he explained. "There was a strong mobilization of believers, and the church has become a major force, with more than 10 percent of the population being Christian, including many of our leaders in politics, business, and academia. People are not ashamed of the Gospel."
Kim shared that Graham's message to Koreans on that day in 1973 has created a spiritual legacy that has persisted through generations in the nation.
"Bible schools and seminaries were started. Strong Bible teaching and discipleship training were emphasized. And every church wanted to be a missions-outreach church. Today, South Korea sends more missionaries than any other country except the United States. Our church alone has built 30 churches in Mongolia since 1973," he said.
"At the same time, the ethics that Christianity teaches people—to work hard, to be honest, and to be humble—I believe, dramatically influenced the Korean labor force, and our economy rose very rapidly. It's a miracle," Kim continued.
Billy Graham said it best, "The real story of the Crusades is not in the great choirs, the thousands in attendance, nor the hundreds of inquirers who are counseled. The real story is in the changes that have taken place in the hearts and lives of people."
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