The Rev. Dr. Billy Graham, the worlds best-known evangelist who popularized the mass crusade model of evangelism and became a counselor to twelve presidents since World War II, has died at 99.
On February 21st, 2018 at 7:46 a.m., William Franklin “Billy” Graham transitioned from his earthly estate in Montreat, NC to his heavenly home with Christ.
Rev. Graham had been in failing health for the past several years but continued to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ through My Hope.
The story of Graham’s life began in Charlotte, NC on November 7th, 1918. As a young man, he did not like going to church and preferred to play baseball over religion. In 1934 he attended a local revival being held by Mordecai Fowler Ham and received Christ as his savior.
“I was opposed to evangelism,” he said. “But finally, I was persuaded by a friend [to go to a meeting]…and the spirit of God began to speak to me as I went back night after night. One night, when the invitation was given to accept Jesus, I just said, ‘Lord, I’m going.’ I knew I was headed in a new direction.”
This “new direction” would come to a head in 1949 when Graham held a series of tent revivals in Los Angeles, CA which came to be known as Crusades. Though this was initially scheduled for three weeks it was extended to eight weeks. Over 350,000 people heard Rev. Graham speak and we compelled to come forward at the end of the preaching to receive Christ.
This event sparked over 50 years of Billy Graham Crusades where over 215 million people were challenged to repent and trust Jesus.
It was not without criticism, however, as Graham was called out numerous times for his ecumenical stances even being called “antichrist” by Protestant leaders.
During an interview with Robert Schuler in 1997, Graham had this to say in answer to a question about the future of Christianity:
I think that everybody that loves or knows Christ, whether they are conscious of it or not, they are members of the body of Christ… [God] is calling people out of the world for his name, whether they come from the Muslim world, or the Buddhist world or the non-believing world, they are members of the Body of Christ because they have been called by God. They may not know the name of Jesus but they know in their hearts that they need something they do not have, and they turn to the only light they have, and I think that they are saved and they are going to be with us in heaven.
Though some may continue to criticize after his passing, Dr. Graham certainly stated on numerous occasions what his purpose is here on earth:
“I have one message: that Jesus Christ came, he died on a cross, he rose again, and he asked us to repent of our sins and receive him by faith as Lord and Savior, and if we do, we have forgiveness of all of our sins,” Billy Graham, Flushing Meadows Park Crusade, June 2005
Many will miss his charm, wit, and advice and heads of state are expressing condolences:
The GREAT Billy Graham is dead. There was nobody like him! He will be missed by Christians and all religions. A very special man.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 21, 2018
Karen and I were saddened to learn of the passing of one of the greatest Americans of the century, Reverend Billy Graham. We send our deepest condolences to the Graham family. (1/2)
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) February 21, 2018