The elder son of Billy and Ruth Bell Graham, he has served as president and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse since 1979 and as president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association since 2001. Under his leadership, Samaritan’s Purse has met the needs of poor, sick, and suffering people in more than 100 countries. As an evangelist for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, he has led evangelistic outreach initiatives around the world.
William Franklin Graham, III, born July 14, 1952, is the fourth of five children born to evangelist Billy Graham and his wife, Ruth Bell Graham. Raised in a log home in the Appalachian Mountains outside Asheville, North Carolina, Franklin now lives in Boone, North Carolina.
He was born into a heritage rich in Christian ministry. By the time of Franklin’s birth, Billy Graham was already known around the world as a spiritual leader, but he wasn’t the only spiritual giant in the family. Franklin’s maternal grandfather, Lemuel Nelson Bell, was a medical missionary to China for more than 20 years, and a respected moderator of his denomination, the Presbyterian Church in the United States.
At age 22, after a period of rebellion and traveling the world, Franklin committed his life to Jesus Christ while alone in a hotel room in Jerusalem. Soon after that, Dr. Bob Pierce, founder of Samaritan’s Purse, invited Franklin to join him on a six-week mission to Asia. It was during that time that Franklin felt a calling to work with hurting people in areas of the world affected by war, famine, disease, and natural disasters.