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The Rev. Billy Graham: Example of life well-lived

The news that the Rev. Billy Graham had passed away brought to mind childhood memories of watching him on television preaching in stadiums and arenas around the world. In 1966, he came within an hour of where my family lived to hold a crusade, so we went to hear him in person.

Billy Graham “has preached the Gospel to more people in live audiences than anyone else in history—nearly 215 million people in more than 185 countries and territories….Hundreds of millions more have been reached through television, video, film, and webcasts,” according to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Reverend Graham’s last live crusade was held in 2005 in New York City.

Billy Graham once said his favorite Scripture is John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” He added, “I suppose it is the most familiar passage in the Bible. It has only twenty-five words in the English translation of it, but it is the Gospel in a nutshell…..Whatever the color of a person’s skin, whatever language he speaks, God loves him and God is willing to save him. To me that is marvelous.”

Graham was often described as the “pastor to the presidents” because he had a relationship or personal audience with every U.S. president from Truman to Obama. He was particularly close with Eisenhower, who asked for Graham while on his death bed, and Nixon. He presided over the graveside services for President Lyndon Johnson in 1973 and spoke at the funeral of President Richard Nixon in 1994.

Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, commented on his passing. “We are fortunate to have lived in the era of Billy Graham…..He was never ashamed to confront a brave new world with the old-time gospel.. “Combining the power of a ‘the Bible says’ authority with the compassion of a ‘Just as I Am’ invitation, he projected the mission of Christ Jesus, full of grace and truth.”

Singer/Talk Show host Kathie Lee Gifford remarked, “I think the value of a life is if you can look back and say you impacted one person’s life for eternity—how awesome is that? Well, Billy can look back on his life and be absolutely assured that he has impacted millions of lives for eternity.”

Billy Graham once said, “I’ve found during the lot of years in my life when I’ve had sicknesses and been in the hospital and so forth, there’s a peace that just resides there and stays there that I cannot explain.” Everybody can have that same peace if they receive Christ as their Savior. I know I’m going to heaven. I’m looking forward to it with great anticipation because of what Jesus did on that cross.”

Graham has been quoted as saying, “Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead, don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.”

When the Reverend Billy Graham entered into heaven, he surely heard the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23).

 

Jan White is a national award-winning religion columnist. She can be reached at jwhite@andycable.com