This work is neither a biography nor a memoir nor a piece of fiction. It is an attempt to express the esteem in which my colleagues and I hold the amazing man we call our boss. To do so I have had to portray him as I saw him with my own eyes, not just as others have written about him.
The book does include occasional quotations from the writings of Billy's three excellent biographers Stanley High, John Pollock, and William Martin as well as from team members, world figures, media folks, and admirers generally of Billy Graham. In every case I have sought to give credit where credit is due.
In expressing appreciation to those who have helped me, I begin with my wife, Ruth Evelyn Wirt, who has lived night and day with the text and who, prior to our marriage in 1987, spent eighteen years as administrative assistant to Leighton Ford and manager of Billy Graham's Canadian office. This is her book too.
The generous cooperation I have received from the staff at Billy Graham's headquarters in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Billy Graham Center at The Cove, Asheville, and at offices in Montreat, North Carolina, as well as from certain individuals has made compiling this
volume (my twenty- sixth) a genuine joy. I would mention particularly Stephanie Wills, Billy's secretary; Dr. John Corts, president of the Billy Graham Association; Dr. Roger Palms, editor of Decision magazine; Dr. Lois Ferm, BGEA archivist; Robert Shuster, director of the Billy Graham Center archives; Hugh Elder, director at The Cove; Larry Ross, public relations director; and most particularly photographers Russ Busby and Robert Osthus. I thank the critique groups of the San Diego County Christian Writer's Guild, and markedly Mary Jenson, for invaluable help. For help with the Alaska chapter, I am indebted to Dr. Thomas Teply. For technical assistance with my computer, I am grateful to my grandnephew Evan Wirt and to Richard Mussman.
A great many volumes have been written about Billy Graham, and I have consulted a number of them. The libraries of neighboring institutions, particularly Westminster Theological Seminary and Christian Heritage School, have been helpful. The bound volumes of Decision magazine, 1960 - 1996, have been at my disposal, and for that I am grateful to Dr. Roger Palms. I wish to thank my friend Dr. James Dixon Douglas for his percipient foreword. Editors Leonard Goss and Lila Bishop and Publisher Lane Dennis of Crossway Books have been indispensable partners in bringing this book to life.
Many Christian authors dealing with evangelism invite their readers to make a spiritual response to what they have read. If after reading these pages you, friend reader, would like to know more about the Man Christ Jesus whom Billy Graham serves, and whom we serve, I invite you to write me in care of the publisher. You can be sure your letter will be read and answered either by myself or the publisher or by the Graham Association staff.
So now, Billy, here you are as I and many of your friends see you. And we give God all the glory for what He has done in your life, as you do. We're thrilled to have been part of it.
Poem: "McMakin's Charge" || Table of Contents