Grand Rapids is where Billy Graham's preaching career began back in 1947. However, Graham had visited the city years earlier, as part of the Youth for Christ Ministry he started.

Fifty-two years after he first preached in Grand Rapids, Graham returned one September evening in 1999 with his good friend and former president, Gerald Ford, by his side.

No one has spread the word of God to more people than Graham. More than 215 million have seen him in person, countless millions more on TV and radio.

Daybreak church Pastor Wes Dupin's father, Clyde was a friend of Graham's. Dupin says he tries to model his approach after Billy Graham. "I try to preach that same message," Dupin told WZZM 13. "That the only real hope is found in a relationship through Jesus Christ and to know God personally is really where it's at."

Dupin heard his last recorded sermon in 2013, "The same message was still there, 'God loves you, God has a plan for your life God wants to have a relationship with you personally.'"

Billy Graham made his final appearance in Grand Rapids in 1999. People who attended the event downtown realized it would likely be the last time he would visit West Michigan and it was.

►Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the WZZM 13 app now.

Have a news tip? Email news@wzzm13.com, visit our Facebook page or Twitter.