Billy Graham on Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela (Reuters/Dylan Martinez )

Billy Graham and Nelson Mandela never met, but the two have been connected in many ways over the years.

Both were born in 1918. Both have appeared countless times together on the USA Today/Gallup’s list of “Most Admired.”

And the two corresponded with each other through letters during Mandela’s 27-year prison sentence. 

But it’s the shared passion to end apartheid that universally united these two.

Graham held crusades in both Durban and Johannesburg in 1973, some 20 years after receiving initial invites to preach in South Africa. He wouldn’t accept an invitation unless the crusade meetings were racially integrated. Two decades before that, he personally removed segregated ropes at a Chattanooga, Tenn., crusade.

“My wife and I have prayed for the country of South Africa since 1951, when I was first asked to hold meetings there,” Graham said in a 1994 statement on the election of Mandela as president of South Africa. “We refused to accept that invitation until 1973, when we were able to hold fully integrated crusades in the cities of Johannesburg and in Durban.”

Overflow crowds of more than 100,000 people came out to see Graham preach in Durban and Johannesburg in the country’s first integrated public meetings.

Christianity is not a white man’s religion,” Graham preached during the rallies, “and don’t let anybody ever tell you that it’s white or black. Christ belongs to all people.”

The front page of the March 18, 1973, issue of the Sunday Tribune declared in a large, bold font: “Billy Graham: Apartheid Doomed.”

“It was at those meetings that I was struck with the terrible injustice of the apartheid system, which I referred to as ‘sin,’" Graham said.

Decades later, Graham was one of Mandela’s supporters when he took office in 1994. Mandela died at age 95 on Dec. 5 after a long illness.

“The amazing events surrounding the election of Nelson Mandela to the presidency of South Africa are a testimony to us all of this great man’s resiliency in the face of 27 years of imprisonment,” Graham continued in his statement. “His faith in his country; his ability to command the respect of the people of all races in that country.”

Click here to read the original article at

To contact us or to submit an article, click here.

Get Charisma's best content delivered right to your inbox! Never miss a big news story again. Click here to subscribe to the Charisma News newsletter.

Five ways to deepen your relationship with God, increase your faith and save money!

  • Deepen Your Relationship with God with a FREE eCourse: Click Here to view all of our free e-Courses. Favorite topics include Fear, Forgiveness, Holy Spirit, Supernatural, and How to Hear God.
  • Super Discounts and Close-Out Specials: Click Here to view all our bundles and close-out specials and save up to 86%! Prayer, Holy Spirit, Anointing, the Supernatural and more.
  • God Wants to Anoint Women Now: Rise up and enter the anointing of Deborah, Anna, Esther, Ruth and Hannah. You were called to go higher. Click Here to learn more.
  • Change Your Atmosphere and Circumstances Through Prayer! John Eckhardt's prayer bundle gives you six powerful books to help you pray and change any situation. Click Here.
  • HUGE Bible Sale!: Click Here to save up to 50% off a great selection of Bibles. Plus, get a free gift with each order!

Subscription Special: Subscribe to Charisma for Only $24.97 and get a free gift. With your subscription, you'll receive Born For Significance by best-selling author Bill Johnson. View Offer

Attention Pastors and Leaders: Leadership training and development are crucial for success. Enroll in a FREE 1-hour leadership mini-course by Dr. Mark Rutland. View Details

Charisma News - Informing believers with news from a Spirit-filled perspective