'America's Pastor' Billy Graham has passed away at the age of 99. Did you know he has an enduring Kalamazoo connection?

Billy Graham's ministry has been ongoing since 1949 and will be his legacy. An ambassador for the gospel. Graham played many roles and had many positions and titles throughout his career.

Among his many "firsts," Billy Graham was the first employee of the outreach organization Youth for Christ. Their history reads "In 1944, on a fishing trip off the coast of Florida, Torrey Johnson, a Chicago pastor, shared this vision of a national movement with Billy Graham, asking him to become the organization’s first evangelist and employee." He accepted and the following year is when things really took off:

Youth for Christ quickly became a national movement, with Torrey Johnson as the first president, and Billy Graham as its first full-time staff member. Kalamazoo was one of the initial “core” cities, with Reinhold Barth, pastor of Calvary Bible Church, becoming the first director of Kalamazoo Youth for Christ in 1944

-Kalamazoo Youth for Christ

A movement that has grown to more than 100 countries and a ministry that touched millions worldwide has a Kalamazoo connection. Kalamazoo Youth for Christ eulogizes Billy Graham:

We are indebted to his visionary leadership. Today heaven rejoices in the many changes lives he directly and indirectly impacted.

Rest in Heaven, Mr. Graham. Well done, good and faithful servant.

Bonus Video: Peaceful Clouds through a top floor window of Kalamazoo's Masonic Temple