The 1949 Annual Report to the Board of Directors of the Northwestern Schools
By Dr. Billy Graham
The following article contains excerpts from The Annual Report by Billy Graham in 1949. His message to the Board of Directors was published in the July 1949 Pilot.
We sincerely believe that we are gathered today to discuss the policies, plans and program of one of the most important phases of the Lord’s work in His vineyard at this particular time. Let us remember that we are "laborers together with God—so then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase." We also remember the word, "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for as much as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."
In view of all this, ladies and gentlemen, does it behoove us to stand together shoulder to shoulder as never before? Those of us who look for His coming, believe in His virgin birth, His deity and atoning death, hold to the inspiration of the Word, and labor for the evangelization of the world—should not these great fundamentals be sufficient to bind us heart to heart? Suppose we do differ in many minor points—are these less important things sufficient to divide us? Shall we ever agree on everything? Cannot brotherly love and the heartiest cooperation prevail?
And may we not work hand in hand even knowing that we differ on our Lord’s prayer to be answered, "That they all may be one"? Is there not such a thing as being right in heart and wrong in head, and is not the former preferable? Why should the word opposition ever be heard among us? Are we not laborers together and cannot unity and harmony prevail? Our Lord bade us use the sickle on the whitened harvest fields but never on our brethren. Dare we then touch His anointed? Must we make it our business to undermine God’s servants because of some side issue upon which we cannot see eye to eye? Should there not be the fullest fellowship and heartiest cooperation? How else can we meet the fearful apostasy and destructive criticism and darkness of our day? In unity there is strength.
Gentlemen, I beg of you as we consider these matters today that we not go "without the camp" divided, but that we go "without the camp" united. I trust that our decisions will be harmonious, unanimous, and that our suggestions and discussions will be in a spirit of love, realizing the tremendous responsibilities that we have.
In these last days God has raised up Bible institutes and Christian training schools. Founded forty-seven years ago, the Northwestern Schools has become one of the largest of these institutions in the world. It occupies a prominent place in strong, uncompromising, evangelical Christian education.
As we come to this annual Board meeting, we have much to thank God for. This last year has been a hard, nerve-wracking and trying one for all of those who are in places of responsibility at the Northwestern Schools. All of us have been extremely overworked. As a result, many mistakes have been made, and we confess our mistakes and errors and shortcomings. We say in all humility that had it not been for God, Northwestern could have folded up at any time. We give God all the praise and glory for anything that has been accomplished during the past twelve months. In these past twelve months we have seen evidences of the Hand of God.
First, in this past year we have seen the glorious completion of Memorial Hall. A year ago there were many that said it would never be done. Today it is a monument to answered prayer.
Secondly, this past year we have seen the enrollment of the Northwestern Schools increase by twenty-five percent. The average Christian school shows a decrease of eight percent during the past year. Certainly, the Lord has been more than generous to us in giving us so many students, from so many different lands.
Thirdly, we have seen our budget nearly doubled in the past year, and yet we have seen God meet our financial need at every turn. He has tested us many times; we have come through many deep waters, but we are still here.
Fourthly, this past year we have seen twice as many different gifts come to the Northwestern Schools for our work as in any previous year in the history of the school. There were many that said that because of the passing of so great a man as Dr. Riley, or the interim on the president’s name, or many other excuses, that we would not receive as many gifts as we had previously. The very opposite has been true. God has been with us!
Fifthly, we have seen the wonderful completion of KTIS. One year ago many said it could not be done; even some of our close brethren and advisers in this city said it was impossible, and I tell you very frankly that there were very few that lent to us a helping hand. I asked several for help and for one reason and another we were turned down. God alone built this station. This is one project that we owe no man anything. God through the sacrificial gifts of the students, faculty and staff, and the untiring efforts of the director of our station, raised this up to make a tremendous impact upon the Minneapolis area. All of you know this miraculous story.
All across the nation people are talking about the Northwestern Schools. Dr. Sam Sutherland, Dean of The Bible Institute of Los Angeles [Biola University today], said to a group a few days ago in Los Angeles, "There is no doubt about it, the Northwestern Schools now has the spotlight of Christian schools across the country." There are many that have asked what is the answer, how has all this come about in so short a time? The only answer is God! The present leadership of this school has stood back and watched God work. Please believe me, I feel that I have contributed so very little and I feel very small and inadequate; and even as I write this, tears come to my eyes as we look back across the year and see the glorious accomplishments and achievements that only the Lord Himself could bring about. We have much to praise and thank Him for. Praise be unto His Name.
...I should like once again to confess my own personal mistakes during the past year. They have been many. Some have been because of lack of experience. Some have been because I was not adequately informed of certain situations. Some have been because I was not here enough to know what was actually going on. Others have been mistakes of misjudgment. For all of these I am deeply regretful, and I am certain I will be held accountable at the Judgment Seat of Christ. These Deans with wiser heads have been patient, understanding, and wonderfully cooperative. Only the Lord in heaven knows what this has meant to me. Every one of them is exactly what Dr. Riley said they were—genuine and true blue and deeply spiritual. Not one of them is out for himself. I can say without reservation that every one of these men and women is out to glorify the name of the Lord Jesus Christ in this place. Again I say that I, and you, owe them a deep debt of gratitude.
During this past year we have taken to heart this new motto of ours, "Knowledge on Fire." We have been trying to teach our young people that one of the greatest lessons they can ever learn is how to live. We teach science; we teach literature; we teach all the academic subjects, but we also teach students how to live. We do not let young people skim over the job here and get away with it. We want them to study hard and do a good job, not for just what they are going to learn in books, but we believe that in so doing we are building their characters. But with all the knowledge through academic subjects that we are cramming into their heads, and the character that we are putting into their backbones, we are asking God and the Holy Spirit to set it on fire. We believe the greatest need in the Christian work is the hour of evangelism. We do not believe the world will ever be evangelized until the church gets on fire for Christ. Therefore, we have this year emphasized a burning passion for the souls of men. We have had one chapel speaker after another to testify that there is something electric, something different here on Northwestern’s campus. If you could have been here during the Missionary Conference, you would have seen this flame as it seared its way into hundreds of lives and scores made decisions to go to the foreign fields with the glorious gospel of Christ. We believe that our student body is on fire.
And another thing we are trying to teach young people is that they must obey the rules. We are not insisting on obedience to our rules in order to just get them obeyed, but we believe that in doing so we are producing Christian leaders and characters who will be able to stand up under the chaotic conditions and be worthwhile in our modern world. The world needs Christian leadership. The fundamental thing in training for leadership is to learn obedience. We believe that if young people can’t take it on the chin, if they can’t obey the rules here, they will never be a leader. The whole modern world is wrecked because of disobedience. The sinful philosophy that has destroyed America is built upon the philosophy of disobedience.
Another thing we have insisted on is loyalty. I believe that one of the greatest lessons that needs to be learned in Christian circles today is loyalty: loyalty to the institution, loyalty to the cause, loyalty to the God-anointed leadership. We have put in some stiff rules on loyalty, and we mean them to be kept. Disloyalty will not be tolerated in this institution on the part of faculty, staff or students. We will not be a divided school. We move here in a mass. That does not mean that we agree about every policy or method or program. It does not mean that we are a bunch of nonentities. But we are all rallying around a truth, a purpose and a program. United we stand; divided we fall. That is the reason we have put in our new rules that no destructive criticism is tolerated.
I believe I can say without contradiction that the students, faculty and staff are united as never before. I do not believe there is a happier student-faculty relationship anywhere in the world. It is marvelous in our eyes. We are deeply grateful for all the things that He has done for us during the past year.