In September of 1989 the Rev. Billy Graham held a weeklong evangelistic crusade at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association reportedly scheduled the crusade after receiving more than 30,000 letters and petition signatures from Arkansans requesting that he come to Little Rock.
Each night featured special guests from ranging from country music singer Johnny Cash to Arkansas Razorback football coach Ken Hatfield to Elvis Presley’s stepbrother Rick Stanley.
In the September 7, 1989, issue of the Arkansas Baptist news magazine, hotels advertised special rates for travelers coming to town for the crusade, and restaurants and businesses across Arkansas made it a point to welcome Billy Graham.
Ahead of his arrival, all 35 members of the Arkansas Senate co-sponsored Senate Concurrent Resolution 9 (S.C.R. 9) “Welcoming Dr. Billy Graham, World Renowned Evangelist, to the State of Arkansas.”
The resolution celebrates Billy Graham as “a world renowned evangelist whose crusades have led untold millions throughout the world to the Christian life,” and it “wishes for a most successful Crusade” in Little Rock.
Then-Governor Bill Clinton likewise wrote a letter welcoming Billy Graham to Arkansas and offering the evangelist, “Best wishes for much continued success and for God’s richest blessings.”
Of course, the crusade was a huge success. Over the course of seven nights, the 70 year old evangelist preached to Arkansans about the priceless value of the human soul, the danger of drugs, and the pressures families faced as the twentieth century drew to a close. Billy Graham wrestled with heavy issues like incest, the breakdown of the family, and violence against women. And like nobody else, he always brought the message back to Christ’s death and resurrection. Countless lives were touched that week.
Nearly 33 years later, it’s incredible to look back and see how Arkansans came together to welcome and celebrate the greatest evangelist of our time.