Legendary Reverend Billy Graham Dead At 99
Rev. Billy Graham died at the age of 99. He was known for his charisma, but said "I despise all this attention on me...I'm not trying to bring people to myself, but I know that God has sent me out as a warrior." USA TODAY
The world's best-known evangelist, the Rev. Billy Graham, has died. He was 99.
From the gangly 16-year-old baseball-loving teen who found Christ at a tent revival, Graham went on to become an international media darling, a preacher to a dozen presidents and the voice of solace in times of national heartbreak. He was America's pastor.
Graham retired to his mountain home at Montreat, N.C., in 2005 after nearly six decades on the road calling people to Christ at 417 all-out preaching and musical events from Miami to Moscow. His final New York City crusade in 2005 was sponsored by 1,400 regional churches from 82 denominations.
Presidents called on Graham in their dark hours, and uncounted millions say he showed them the light. He took his Bible to the ends of the Earth in preaching in large crusades. Even now, anywhere a satellite, radio, TV, video or podcast can reach, his sonorous voice is probably still calling someone to Christ.
On the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance following the 9/11 attacks, Billy Graham spoke of the "mystery of iniquity and evil," of "the lesson of our need for each other" and, ultimately, of hope.
"He was so real, he made Christianity come true." observed Susan Harding, an anthropologist at the University of California-Santa Cruz. "He was homespun, historical and newsworthy all at once. He could span the times from Christ to today, from the globe to you, all in one sentence."
Grant Wacker, a Duke University professor of Christian history, says Graham represented, "what most decent churchgoing people thought and ought to think."
Graham was, however, drawn to power. Eventually, he met, prayed with, comforted and joked with 12 U.S. presidents, and Graham learned to walk a tightrope.
He found a fine balance that allowed him to become America's pastor, Democrat or Republican. North or South.
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association he founded, now led by his son, Franklin, used every communications innovation possible to carry the Gospel to any willing heart on Earth. More than 214 million people in 195 cities and territories heard God's call in Graham's voice and witnessed him deliver the Gospel in person or by satellite links. His projects included founding Christianity Today magazine in 1956 and writing more than 30 books.
High among his numerous honors: The Congressional Gold Medal awarded to Billy and Ruth in 1996, the Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded to him in 1983, and the Templeton Foundation Prize for Progress in Religion in 1982. He even has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
"Fundamentalists saw him as excessively liberal, and liberals saw him as too literalist in talking about sin and salvation. His wonderful balance between them is critical to his legacy," says John Wilson, editor of Books & Culture, a sister publication of Christianity Today magazine.
Graham's last decades were slowed by illness and injury. He was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1989, felled by broken bones, bouts of hydrocephalous and rounds of pneumonia.
Forever in our hearts God's General Rev. Billy Graham, Yeshua the Messiah welcomes you.