If you are ever near Charlotte, North Carolina, I recommend a visit to The Billy Graham Library. If you can’t get there, I think you will enjoy seeing this picture tour. Enter the barn-shaped building designed to reflect Billy’s journey from a humble farm boy to a world-renowned ambassador of God’s love.
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We recently spent 6 days in Charlotte, North Carolina. A trip to attend a daylong bootcamp with my coach was the reason for the trip. But, since it was my first-time in Charlotte, we added a few extra days to see the city. On our to-do list was to tour the Billy Graham Library located not far from the Charlotte Douglas International Airport.
Our visit was in early August and fortunate for us the week wasn’t sweltering hot as we drove onto the grounds.
We learned that Billy Graham initially was against the idea of a library bearing his name saying adamantly that he did not want to detract from the message that points to Christ alone as the way to God.
When the concept of the Library was described to him as a “Crusade” that would continue for generations to come, he reconsidered. “When it was presented as an ongoing ministry and that people would have the opportunity to be won to Christ, I changed my mind,” he said.
About the Billy Graham Library
The Billy Graham Library is not a memorial to Billy, or a museum. It is rather a ministry, prayerfully planned with the intention of communicating the unchanging, life-giving message of Jesus Christ to hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
The 40,000-square-foot complex opened to the public on June 5, 2007. The library is located on the grounds of the international headquarters of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, just a few miles from where Billy grew up.
Begin your visit to The Billy Graham Library
When you enter into the main lobby, you will be greeted at the welcome and information center. The entrance to the Library is in the shape of a 40-foot-high glass cross, and serves as a visual reminder to visitors that it is only through the Cross of Christ that we can be reconciled.
Besides the friendly and knowledgeable volunteers ready to help with any question or comment, you will find that the building is styled after a dairy barn reminiscent of Billy’s childhood.
Toward the back of this area is Ruth’s Attic Bookstore with inspirational gifts, home and kitchen items, Bibles and devotionals, apparel and a kids section. There is also an exhibit of Billy’s personal library and desk.
What would a dairy barn be without a cow or two? Well, this barn even has a talking cow. Meet Bessie. She is located just to the right of the entrance and delights children as well as adults with her animated introduction as she she describes Billy Graham’s childhood on a dairy farm.
According to exhibits in the Library, Billy preached to 215 million people in over 185 countries. “Some people called him God’s ambassador, the pastor to presidents, the leading evangelist in the world,” Bessie tell us.
A Journey of Faith
The Journey of Faith begins as another friendly volunteer directs visitors to begin a multimedia tour through six exhibits, two theaters, and four galleries of Billy Graham’s dynamic journey through stunning presentations, interactive kiosks, photos, and memorabilia.
The beginning of Billy Graham’s ministry
Tour the tent scene of the 1949 Los Angeles Crusade that brought national attention to Billy and began his ministry that lasted 60 years. The event was initially planned to last for three weeks but was so well received that it lasted an amazing 8 weeks.
Major newspapers and media featured the story of Billy and his team, including Cliff Barrows along with George and Beverly Shea. Billy Graham became a household name with international recognition.
Ruth Bell Graham
This room is a replica of the living area of the Graham home. The title of Martin Luther’s greatest hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” is carved in German on the mantel over the huge wood-burning fireplace.
A portrait of Ruth, one of Billy’s favorites, along with many family photos is included in this cozy and inviting room.
In the next area, Ruth Bell Graham’s wedding dress is displayed along with many items from her childhood in China including her Bible fittingly open to the Acts of the Apostles.
More of Ruth’s treasured items are showcased here.
There are many cases of items pertaining to Billy and Ruth throughout the galleries. Mementos and memorabilia of their time at Wheaton College and Billy’s many crusades.
Letters addressed to him from around the world and many historic and memorable artifacts from Billy’s 60 year ministry.
For Christ sent me to preach the Gospel – for the message of the cross is . . . the power of God (in Christ Jesus).
1 Corinthians 1:17a, 18b NIV
Ministries and Evangelist to the world
Pausing at each display in the gallery and viewing the photos gave me a greater appreciation for the vast reach, focus and clarity of Billy’s message. His voice touched, and continues to touch people throughout the world with the one message of hope.
Billy Graham met with 13 US presidents throughout his life.
Billy was the first Christian invited to preach in a public environment behind the Iron Curtain after World War II. Listen to a video of the Russian Arm Choir singing The Battle Hymn of The Republic during Billy’s 1992 Moscow Crusade.
Lunch break at the Graham brothers dairy bar
By this time we were ready to have a bite to eat and the Dairy Bar toward the back of the lobby provided a perfect place. The menu includes ice cream, milkshakes, a variety of made-to-order sandwiches, soup, and salad, coffees and baked goods. We enjoyed Mother Graham’s Chicken Salad on a croissant.
Memorial Prayer Garden
After lunch we followed the brick path to the Memorial Prayer Garden.
Both Billy and his wife, Ruth are buried at the foot of a cross-shaped brick walkway.
Ruth and Billy were married for 64 years. Ruth died in 2007 and Billy in 2018.
“I hope I will be remembered as someone who was faithful — faithful to God, faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and faithful to the calling God gave me not only as an evangelist, but as a husband, father and friend.
I’m sure I’ve failed in many ways, but I take comfort in Christ’s promise of forgiveness, and I take comfort also in God’s ability to take even our most imperfect efforts and use them for His glory.” Billy Graham
During his final crusade in New York, Billy spoke with a national magazine about death. “Do I fear death? No. I look forward to death, with great anticipation. I am looking forward to seeing God face to face. And that could happen any day” (Newsweek, July 4, 2005).
Touching Moments from Billy Graham’s Funeral
Interred a short walk from Ruth and Billy are Billie Barrows, the wife of Billy Graham’s longtime Music Director Cliff Barrows. Gospel singer and Graham’s regular featured soloist George Beverly Shea was interred there as well. Barrows was buried next to his wife on the grounds after his death in November 2016.
Billy Graham’s childhood home
On the library property is the home Billy Graham lived in from age nine until he left for college. Built in 1927 about 4 miles from the library, it was moved from its original location where it now stands, meticulously restored.
Located in front and to the left of the library sits this two-story brick Colonial house.
The home interior features some original furnishings as well as authentic appliances, furniture and fascinating memorabilia from the Graham family. Billy’s mother, Morrow Coffey Graham, lived in the homeplace until she died in 1981.
The kitchen of Billy Graham’s childhood home.
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Visiting the Billy Graham Library
If you have the opportunity to go:
Location: 4330 Westmont Dr, Charlotte, NC 28217 Billy Graham Library
Admission: There is no charge to tour the Library, however, donation boxes are located in the lobby for those who would like to contribute.
Time: The library recommends setting aside 90 minutes to two hours to tour all of the facilities with the last complete tour of the day beginning at 3:30 p.m.
Hours: Open Monday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Closed Sundays and on the following holidays: Thanksgiving, December 24-26, and January 1.
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