50 years ago, Billy Graham took his crusades to Hawaii and spoke of the 'spirit of aloha'

50 years ago, Billy Graham took his crusades to Hawaii and spoke of the 'spirit of aloha'

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Rev. Billy Graham could draw a crowd. And his 1965 crusades to Hawaii were no exception.

He filled the Blaisdell Center with followers that year, preaching for nearly 40 minutes in his folksy and didactic style.

And in Honolulu, he had a special message for his followers.

Like so many others to travel to the islands for the first time, he was struck by Hawaii's "spirit of aloha."

"You have such a beautiful language, especially when you express it in music," Graham told the thousands who had come to see him speak at the Blaisdell. "I love the music that you have out here. The spirit of aloha seems to be in your music. It seems to be in your expression, in your smile. I've never been to a state or a place where everyone seems to have a certain amount of happiness."

Graham, known as "America's preacher," died Wednesday at 99.

Over nearly 60 years, the evangelist traveled the country and the world, preaching to millions in person and through radio and television feeds. By his final crusade in 2005 in New York City, he had preached in person to more than 210 million people worldwide.

After speaking in Honolulu in 1965, Graham made his way to Kahului, then to Hilo and Lihue, speaking to large crowds at every stop.

Also during his Hawaii tour, Graham made a surprise visit to the hospital bedside of a visitor injured in a tour bus crash.

Graham didn't know the woman but was asked to pray with her — and he did.

"I was so thankful they brought him," the woman later said. "It was really unexpected."

Graham also met with Hawaii pastors and other members of religious communities during his Hawaii visit.

And he told that big crowd at the Blaisdell that coming to Hawaii was a treat for him, too.

"It's a wonderful place for us to come where people are so busy and running back and forth dodging traffic, as we are in the eastern part of the United States, and come here where you're a little bit more relaxed," he said. "It's a great experience."

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