“My home is in Heaven. I’m just traveling through this world.” – Billy Graham (1917 – 2018)
American evangelist Billy Graham has died at the age of 99.
Widely thought of as one of the most influential preachers in modern times, as a child Graham worshipped in the Reformed Presbyterian Church in North Carolina.
Graham came to prominence in the 1950s with his revivalist crusades. Thousands of people would flock to hear the preacher in outdoor venues. His Australian tour in 1959 attracted 143,000 people to the MCG, with 150,000 attending Sydney’s Randwick Racecourse.
According to online website ChristianToday AU, the impact of Graham’s tour Down Under is still being felt today. During his four-month tour more than 130,000 made a commitment to Christ and many of those converts became religious leaders.
The Moderator of the Synod of NSW and the ACT, Rev Simon Hansford, described Billy Graham’s style of ministry as “extraordinary” and “innovative” as he drew immense crowds preaching the Good News.
“One of the marks of ministry is the lives of people engaged and transformed, as the Spirit of God works through us – both speaker and hearer, both servant and those served,” Mr Hansford said in Insights magazine.
“Those who attended [Graham’s crusades] and found their lives transformed tell stories of passion and eloquence, of the gospel proclaimed in a way they understood and gave them hope.”
With popular shows on radio and television, Graham preached to millions of people and was one of the first Christian ministers to publicly preach in the USSR and post-communist China. Throughout his life he travelled to more than 185 countries and was a spiritual adviser to 12 American presidents.
Trump led the tributes in the US, tweeting “The GREAT Billy Graham is dead. There was nobody like him! He will be missed by Christians and all religions. A very special man.”
Former president Jimmy Carter described Graham as a personal friend. “Broad-minded, forgiving, and humble in his treatment of others, he exemplified the life of Jesus Christ by constantly reaching out for opportunities to serve,” Carter’s message read. Religious leaders throughout the world are also paying tribute to Graham. Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Nihad Awad said “…His sincere and humble spirituality served as an example to all people and will be greatly missed. May God bless his soul.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, spoke of a man who met all people, rich or poor, as equals.
“The debt owed by the global church to him is immeasurable and inexpressible,” Archbishop Welby said
“Personally I am profoundly grateful to God for the life and ministry of this good and faithful servant of the gospel; by his example he challenged all Christians to imitate how he lived and what he did.”
Perhaps the last word can be left to Billy Graham himself, who once said: “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.”
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