As the world continues to mourn the death of Billy Graham, there’s a fascinating detail about his life and ministry that some might not realize: before achieving international fame, Graham wanted to become an Army chaplain.
The story behind Graham’s quest to join the Armed forces is an astonishing one, as God clearly had other plans for his life.
“In 1944, Billy Graham could not be accepted into the army chaplaincy program because he was underweight,” explains text on The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website.
Graham responded by working hard to gain the necessary weight, but, once again, life stepped in and sent him in an entirely different direction when yet another barrier came in his way.
“After being granted an extension to ‘fatten up’ and gaining the necessary weight, he came down with a severe case of the mumps that prevented him from attending the chaplaincy school,” the text continued.
Graham ended up being approached during his long recovery by a man named Torrey Johnston, who asked if he would be interested in helping organize and participate in youth rallies across the U.S. and Canada.
So, in 1945, rather than joining the chaplaincy program, Graham became the first full-time employee of an organization called Youth For Christ. From there, the rest is history, as Graham went on to become one of the most famous evangelists in history.
He traveled the world, transformed lives and never deviated from the gospel message.
The story surrounding Graham’s inability to enter the chaplaincy program is a lesson to us all. It’s easy to get bogged down with our own plans and to lament when life doesn’t go our way, yet Graham’s journey shows the importance in having faith in God’s plan.
Just think: had Graham not been underweight and then stricken with the mumps, it’s possible none of us would know him as the transformative evangelist whose career helped change millions of lives.
Read more about Graham’s incredible life and ministry here.