Remembering Billy Graham: How Winona Lake impacted his success

("Franklin and Billy Graham" by Paul Walsh, CC BY-SA 2.0)

American Christian Evangelist Billy Graham has died at the age of 99, according to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

His death was confirmed this morning at his home in North Carolina. A spokesman says he died of natural causes.

Graham rose to prominence in the 1950s and 60s thanks to the annual Billy Graham Crusades, holding large indoor and outdoor rallies and preaching to live audiences across the world.

But before he preached to millions worldwide, he attended a prayer meeting in the former Westminster Hotel in Winona Lake, according to GraceConnect.

Billy Graham’s early employer Youth for Christ was founded in Winona Lake, and he was in town back in 1949 for a convention they were holding.

Graham had reportedly been part of an all-night prayer meeting when attendees asked God to assist him in his first crusade in Los Angeles, which was set to happen that fall.

Those who attended remember it as a special night, and a notable one in the history of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

Today Westminster Hotel is now Westminster Hall at Grace College and Seminary.

Darrin Wright contributed to this story.