Billy Graham innovated the world of evangelism. As a preacher during the post-war era traveled near and far-spreading the good news of Jesus Christ. As Graham’s ministry developed, he focused on outreach. Seeking to reach more people and broaden the base, he often crossed lines of partisanship and doctrinal alignment. Graham died this morning at the ripe age of 99, but his message lives on.
Born William Franklin Graham on Nov. 7, 1918, the man fondly recognized as “America’s pastor” came from humble beginnings and grew up on a dairy farm in Charlotte, North Carolina. He accepted Christ into his life at the young age of 16, having been enchanted by the late Mordecai Ham. Graham later moved to Florida and in 1939, was ordained there.
While attending Wheaton College, he met his wife, Ruth McCue Bell, and they married in 1943. They raised five children and remained together until she died in 2007.
As a powerful Christian minister, the famous preacher reached millions of people on his soul-winning crusades. Reshaping the landscape of evangelism, he influenced royalty, presidents, and countless other pastors. Graham was one of the premiere pastors to use radio, television, a newspaper column along with books to reach audiences with his message of hope. The famous preacher said he had just one message…
…And that is that God loves you, he is interested in you no matter what your background, and he wants to forgive you and change you if you will let him come into your life.
In 185 countries around the globe, the renowned preacher impacted on 215 million lives. His following was undeniable as testimonies of his labor continue to saturate social media. Graham set a new precedent for soul-winning and innovated the world of evangelism like no other before him.
Graham was a spiritual guide to several US presidents, many of whom have led a chorus of tributes. When speaking of the powerful minister, here are a couple noted testaments:
‘When he prays with you in the Oval Office or upstairs at the White House, you feel like he is praying for you – not just the president. Billy Graham lived his faith fully, and his powerful words and the conviction they carried touched countless hearts and minds.’ Former President Bill Clinton
‘I am just one of tens of billions of people whose spiritual life has been shapen by Billy Graham. He had an enormous influence on my own spiritual life, and I was pleased to count Reverend Graham among my advisers and friends.’ Former President Jimmy Carter
‘Billy Graham, the man, the preacher, for former farmer’s son, who helped change the world is a spiritual gift to all of us. He touched the hearts of not only Christians, but people of all faiths, because he was such a good man. I was privileged to have him as a personal friend.’ Former President George H. W. Bush
‘He had a powerful, captivating presence and a keen mind. He was full of kindness and grace. His love for Christ and his gentle soul helped open hearts to the Word, including mine.’ Former president George W. Bush
‘Reverend Billy Graham was a humble servant who prayed for so many – and who, with wisdom and grace, gave hope and guidance to generations of Americans.’ Former President Barak Obama
Although Graham’s life-changing message took him around the world, he loved returning home to North Carolina. According to spokesman Mark DeMoss, Reverend Graham had largely retired to a private life over the past decade. Yesterday, mourners began pouring into Billy Graham Library in North Carolina to pay their respects. Prior to his death, he suffered from symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and other illness. Having innovated the world of evangelism, Billy Graham departed this life on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018.
By Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
The Atlantic: Billy Graham, the Great Uniter, Leaves Behind a Divided Evangelicalism
NBC News: Billy Graham, evangelist pastor and counselor to presidents, dead at age 99
Conduit Media Solutions: Jason Crabb and Don Moen
Top Image Courtesy of Ninian Reid’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Featured Image Courtesy of Richard Bromley’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License