After the passing of evangelist Dr. Billy Graham at age 99, will there ever be anyone else who comes close to this man’s passion for preaching Christ to the world?
The late Billy Graham, one of the nation’s most beloved evangelists, recently passed into glory at age 99 after having served as an evangelist for several decades. This man served as a spiritual advisor for several presidents, but he also traveled the globe to preach Christ to people around the world and spoke with dozens of worldwide leaders. It is believed that well over 215 million heard about Jesus Christ over the six decades that he served, and he served and prayed with US presidents, from Harry Truman to Barack Obama. Dr. Graham’s life will have ripples of effects for time without end as his preaching was heard in 185 of the world’s 195 countries, according to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, so the total influence of this man’s ministry may never be completely known until we enter the kingdom. He has been called perhaps the greatest and most influential Christian evangelist since the Apostle Paul. And unlike in his day, he was able to avoid many of the scandals that other famous evangelists faced as he lived a life above reproach.
Billy Graham has not only been an evangelist, he has served several U.S. Presidents over the decades, leading worship services and giving spiritual advise to those in the nation’s highest offices. I remember hearing about this man saying to an audience in Charlotte in 1958 that, “We have an idea that we Americans are God’s chosen people, that God loves us more than any other people, and that we are God’s blessed. I tell you that God doesn’t love us any more than he does the Russians.”  Among some of the honors bestowed upon Dr. Graham were the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the highest honor an American citizen can receive, but he also received the Congressional Gold Medal, and even an honorary knighthood from Britain for his contribution to civic and religious life. Dr. Graham was an outspoken critic of communism, seeing it as a godless, atheistic nation that threatened the peace and stability of the world.
Some have called the late Dr. Howard O. Jones the “Jackie Robinson” of evangelism because of his strong stance against racial prejudice. Dr. Jones is also widely known for breaking the color barrier in 1958. He became the first African American who was invited by Billy Graham to be a part of the internationally renowned evangelist’s crusade team, so not only was Dr. Jones a groundbreaker, so was Dr. Graham. Dr. Jones served with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) for 35 years and was the primary speaker on the Association’s radio broadcast, “Hour of Freedom.” Eventually, Dr. Jones was inducted into the National Religious Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 1955, and like Billy Graham, Dr. Jones understood that it is wrong to focus on race or the person’s skin color or nationality. The gospel is open to all who would come, Jew or Gentile, male or female, and poor or rich. Both these men knew that the gospel is not about race but all about grace. Billy Graham was not happy by the racial division that was occurring in the 1950’s and 60’s, so during at least two crusades in the early 1950s, which were held in Tennessee and Mississippi, Dr. Graham physically removed the racial barrier, taking down the ropes that had separated blacks and whites. Many of whites who were serving under Dr. Graham were not happy with his doing this, but he knew that there was no room for division at the cross, because he knew that every one of us bleed red, so there is no difference between people of different skin color to God as God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). Even though Dr. Graham preached that racial segregation was sin, a few civil rights leaders were critical of him because he was not as involved in fighting social injustice, like racial prejudice, as other prominent me were, first and foremost of which was the late Dr. Marin Luther King Jr.
With the passing of Dr. Billy Graham, there is a time of sadness for many, but he would not trade one day in heaven for a thousand on earth now. I remember him saying, this was not his home and that he was only passing through. Well, he’s passed through and finally arrived at his true home. For those he left behind, it’s not “Goodbye,” but “See you later.” We don’t grieve like those without hope (1 Thess 4:13), because for those whose trusted in Christ, including those beloved family and friends of ours who have passed away, we know we’ll see them again, however this time, all the pain, sorrow, suffering, crying, and even death will be missing… and missing forever (Rev 21:4). The late Dr. Billy Graham had a rule every pastor and church leader should follow, and that was he would never be found alone with another woman. It became known as the Billy Graham Rule, and as a result, there were no scandals of this nature to be found in his ministry. Near the end of his life, Dr. Graham didn’t care about all of the medals, honors or accolades, and neither did he desire that people say a lot of nice things about him. The only thing he wanted to hear was, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matt 25:21). I believe he has finally heard those words from his Master.
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.
1. “Dr. Billy Graham trying to avoid offending Soviets”, UPI story in Minden Press-Herald, May 10, 1982, p. 1