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Lorna Dueck is host of Context TV.

A Canadian crisis of faith had an enormous effect on the career and life of Rev. Billy Graham, the world's most famous preacher. At the close of the Second World War, Billy Graham was preaching in multiple cities with his close friend and dynamic preacher, Toronto's Rev. Charles Templeton. The pair's Youth For Christ rallies drew crowds of teenagers to dance halls to hear great music and convincing words about Jesus.Just as I Am, Rev. Graham's autobiography, records that from 1946 to 1949, Rev. Templeton challenged Billy that the pair may have gotten their convictions all wrong. Rev. Templeton went on to leave Christian life; Rev. Graham did not. He confirmed his own belief in the Bible and the salvation of Jesus, and later told his team, "I simply stepped onto the stage Chuck [Rev. Templeton] left …."

Rev. Graham took two talented Canadians from that early work with Rev. Templeton: pianist Tedd Smith of London, Ont., and baritone George Beverly Shea of North Dundas, Ont., and for decades the pair performed before every sermon Rev. Graham preached. Today, however, Rev. Graham would want you to be thinking about only one name: Jesus.

"I am so tired of hearing the name Billy Graham, and so stilled when I hear the name of Jesus," Rev. Graham was known to say. Millions around the world would come to his meetings and always be challenged with the same searing question: "Will you come to Jesus, just as you are?" This was the core of the Christian Gospel Rev. Graham preached, that our behaviour is never good enough for God, that we are invited to say yes to Jesus to get right with God.

Biographer Dr. Lon Allison, honorary director of the Billy Graham Center in Wheaton, Ill., says Rev. Graham began his career as a conservative hawk, leveraging the fear of communism to rally people toward God, but later evolved into regretting political manipulation. Still, 12 different U.S. presidents sought out Rev. Graham for counsel and popularity. Rev. Graham was among the first to take down racial barriers at his rallies, and aligned closely with the Civil Rights movement and Martin Luther King, Jr. Pundits speculate that an iconic photo of Rev. Graham with John F. Kennedy in a convertible helped Kennedy win the election. Rev. Graham was particularly close with Richard Nixon, and deeply regretted his naiveté in the relationship. President Reagan urged Rev. Graham not to go to communist Russia, but Rev. Graham was the first to preach a Christian revival service behind the Iron Curtain. Rev Graham dismissed it all with a redirection.

"All that I have been able to do, I owe to Jesus Christ. When you honour me, you are really honouring Him. Any honours I have received, I accept with a sense of inadequacy and humility, and I will reserve the right to hand all of these someday to Christ, when I see Him face-to-face," he said upon receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Feb. 23, 1983.

Canadians loved Billy Graham and flooded to hear him on the 13 occasions he preached to packed stadiums in Canadian cities. But in 1995, Rev. Graham had a dramatic collapse and was taken ill while addressing business leaders at a Toronto prerally event. One of Rev. Graham's colleagues, Rev. Ralph Bell, an African-Canadian from Niagara Falls, stepped in to preach, but the ailing Rev. Graham rallied and preached Saturday and Sunday nights, breaking the SkyDome record on the final night with 73,500 people attending.

Before every preaching event in Canada, like around the world, churches were organized by the Graham team for months ahead of time to pray for a divine move of God upon people's hearts. Today the simple Gospel message of Rev. Graham and his related work carries on in the outstanding lives of his children and grandchildren. (Grandson Will Graham has held rallies like his grandfather's in over 30 Canadian cities since 2004 with more booked in 2018.) The Canadian crisis of faith that propelled Rev. Graham's career is still a common question for us all to answer.

"My one purpose in life is to help people find a personal relationship with God, which I believe comes from knowing Christ," Rev. Graham said.