Review of Through My Father’s Eyes

Like many Americans, Billy Graham’s ministry had a big impact on my life, without me even really knowing it. When my mother came over as an immigrant in the 1950’s, she was away from the church she knew all her life, and watched Billy Graham crusades. During the 1970s and 1980s, whenever a crusade came on TV, we’d watch it as a family. While Billy Graham did have his detractors, it’s those detractors that usually come off looking petty or foolish when you look at this man’s character, his approach to ministry, and his teaching.

Through My Father’s Eyes is a book my Franklin Graham about his father, Billy Graham. It’s written as a series of vignettes, some of which read like historical accounts, some of which read like journal entries, some of which read like devotionals. They’re loosely organized by different broad topics, such as stories about Billy Graham’s years on TV, letters that were written to him, his approach to preaching, his approach to prayer, his approach to writing, and so on.

The first word that comes to mind when I describe this book is that it’s honest and transparent. Franklin Graham doesn’t mince words when he talks about “sensitive” subjects, such as his own struggles growing up, infighting that occurred in the BGEA, and very poignant accounts of his mother’s passing. He shares a lot of “insider” stories of his roles with the BGEA and Samaritan’s Purse, but all in the context of how his father dealt with similar situations. Finally, he spends a lot of time talking about his father’s history, in the later years as a fellow worker in the ministry to whom his father would give advice and support, and in the earlier years as a historian. I was mesmerized when reading accounts of, say, Billy Graham’s early years on network television in the Hour of Decision, or his meetings with presidents, including the infamous Richard Nixon meetings.

This is not necessarily the sort of book you read cover-to-cover–as much as the author tried to organize the vignettes, it doesn’t really read like a cohesive narrative. But I found that when I pick it up and read a random story (which range anywhere from one paragraph to a few pages), what I read is invariably fascinating and gives insight not into just Billy Graham’s approach and philosophy, but Franklin’s as well.

I do like that the book isn’t merely a “tribute” or “hero worship”, but an earnest effort to capture the life of Billy Graham in a way that’s informative, encouraging, and replete with references to scripture. It’s a must-read for anyone whose life has been touched by Bille Graham, or who aspires to be in a ministry.