He was born into a heritage rich in Christian ministry. By the time of Franklin’s birth, Billy Graham was already known around the world as a spiritual leader, but he wasn’t the only spiritual giant in the family. Franklin’s maternal grandfather, Lemuel Nelson Bell, was a medical missionary to China for more than 20 years, a respected moderator of his denomination, the Presbyterian Church in the United States, and a co-founder and executive editor of Christianity Today.
At age 22, after a period of rebellion and traveling the world, Franklin committed his life to Jesus Christ while alone in a hotel room in Jerusalem. Soon after that, Dr. Bob Pierce, founder of Samaritan’s Purse (and World Vision), invited Franklin to join him on a six-week mission to Asia. It was during that time that Franklin felt a calling to work with hurting people in areas of the world affected by war, famine, disease, and natural disasters.