I Saw Your Sons at War

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I Saw Your Sons at War:
The Korean Diary of Billy Graham

The Rev. Billy Graham traveled to Korea in December of 1952 to meet with missionaries, chaplains, officers, pastors, and soldiers during the Christmas holiday season. Publicity about this famous evangelist’s ministry in Korea was published in the form of a book entitled, I Saw Your Sons at War: The Korean Diary of Billy Graham. It was published in 1953 by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Minneapolis, Minnesota. No doubt many anxious families on the home front read it for some kind of reassurance as they worried and waited for news about their loved one stationed in Korea.

According to Graham, he made the trip to Korea for multiple reasons. "I thought that if I could see how Christians were suffering in Korea, it would make an impact in my own life, and in turn would enable me to be of greater help to the hundreds of people to whom I have the privilege of ministering," he said. "Then, too, the trip would make it possible for me to spend Christmas with the troops, to bring them just a touch of home at Christmas time. That was something I had wanted to do for a long time. During the past two Christmas seasons, I had found it difficult to sit down and enjoy my dinner as I thought of the boys in the cold, muddy trenches of Korea." Graham said that a trip to Korea would also be a way to encourage the missionaries in Japan, Korea, and Formosa, and it would mean that he could see the Korean Church at first hand.

I Saw Your Sons at War is a 64-page account of Graham’s evangelism in the Far East. It tells about his visit with GI’s in Tokyo General Hospital and his tour of Korea from December 14 to December 25, 1952. He visited orphanages, hospitals and mission stations in Pusan and Taegu; attended prayer meetings at various churches in Seoul; spent a short time on the Danish hospital ship Jutlandia; and then traveled in a small aircraft to "the front" where Graham said he spent three days visiting every American division in all three Corps areas. One day, following a preaching session, Graham asked to go into the bunkers and trenches on the main line of resistance. He was flown by helicopter up and over a ridge, and very near the fighting front. His book indicates that Graham actually did go into the bunkers and trenches to visit with men on active duty for a short time before returning to the rear for noon chow. His trip to Korea also included a visit in President Syngman Rhee’s home, a tour of a MASH hospital unit, and a Christmas Eve meal of steak with General Dewey. For Graham, the climax of his missionary trip was preaching a Christmas morning service to three or four thousand men in an area called the "Bulldozer Bowl," followed by a second service "right at the front, in partial view of the enemy lines."

It was the hope of the Korean War Educator that the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association would allow the entire text of I Saw Your Sons at War to be reprinted on this website. The publication is very small. However, we received a message from Stephen G. Scholle, Vice President of Administration, Billy Graham Evangelist Association, Charlotte, North Carolina, declining our request. He stated that, "We do not wish to have the material readily accessible to others at this time." His reasoning behind not making the material accessible was that, "The book contains statements about Korea and Japan that would not necessarily be compatible with Mr. Graham’s present perspective and might be misunderstood if taken out of context. This concerns us because our ministry has continuing work in both North and South Korea, as well as Japan."

Even though I Saw Your Sons at War: The Korean Diary of Billy Graham is not available on the Korean War Educator, it is available and highly accessible to our readers through interlibrary loan. Its OCLC number is 12277525, and it can be accessed at the following libraries: the Billy Graham Center in Illinois; Library of Congress in Washington, DC; Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in New York; Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives in Tennessee; Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Austin, TX; Houston Baptist University Library, Texas; Southern Methodist University’s Bridwell Library in Texas; Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Texas; and the University of Wisconsin General Library System, Madison, Wisconsin. From time to time, volumes of the book also come up for sale on eBay.com. Ebay is where Lynnita Brown, text editor for the Korean War Educator, first learned about the existence of Graham’s Korean War diary.


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