Billy Graham went home to be with the Lord a few days ago, one of the world's greatest evangelists. It has been estimated that during his life, Graham preached to 210 million people in person. Thousands came to know Christ at each of his stadium-filled evangelistic campaigns while the choir sang:
"Just as I am without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bid'st me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come."
Billy Graham had the unique opportunity to touch the lives of 9 different Presidents, as a spiritual advisor. "The story of George Bush's spiritual transformation has usually centered upon his famous walk on a Maine beach with Billy Graham". (From the book: The Faith of George W. Bush, by Stephen Mansfield, page 61). Perhaps no single person has had as much influence on our country's Presidents as Billy Graham. His son, Franklin Graham, carries on the ministry of his father through the ministry of Samaritan's Purse.
In addition to his huge evangelistic rallies, Billy Graham also authored many books. His own autobiography is entitled: :Just As I Am". One of the best books ever written on topic of angels was by Billy Graham. In his earlier years, his famous book, "World Aflame", accounted for much of his success. More recently, when he knew his time on earth was drawing to an end, he wrote the book "Nearing Home", using a baseball analogy to describe the thrill of rounding third base and "heading for home".
Several years ago, while visiting my Mom and Dad in Charlotte, NC, we went to the Billy Graham home and library there by the Charlotte airport. His entire life's story, from the dairy farm where he grew up, to his first big campaign, to his meetings with Presidents, is pictured there. I understand his body will be laid to rest on that property next to his wife Ruth.
I have three aunts (my Dad's sisters) that were saved through the preaching of Billy Graham, so the Seefried family will be forever grateful for the effect this servant of God has had on us. I can hear him right now, in his beautiful, rich, southern voice crying out "God loves you; Jesus died on the cross for your sins; it's time right now to commit your life to Christ". During the course of his preaching, he would always say: "The Bible says" before he would make any point. The Word of God was his authority for preaching.
But perhaps the most impressive thing about Billy Graham was his integrity. He refused to take the large love offerings of his rallies, choosing instead to live on a modest salary. He formed a board to create and guarantee a system of accountability. He stayed married to one wife, Ruth, his whole life, and refused to ever meet alone in a room with another woman, to protect his reputation. While so many other television evangelists were being revealed as dishonest and immoral, Billy Graham set the standard for personal spiritual integrity. His preaching was powerful, but his personal life was even more admirable.
There are many men of God I look forward to talking with when I get to heaven, and Billy Graham is certainly one of them.