Today, our nation grieves the loss of Baptist evangelist Billy Graham, who went home to be with the Lord Wednesday morning at the age of 99.
Dr. Graham was a towering figure during the second half of the 20th century, even playing an advisory role to many of our Presidents. As President George H.W. Bush said, “Billy Graham was America’s pastor. His faith in Christ and his totally honest evangelical spirit inspired people across the country and around the world.”
Dr. Graham had a direct impact on my life as well. He was the instrument God used to lead my dad to Christ back in the early ‘70s. Were it not for Graham’s ministry, perhaps my dad would have never heard the gospel and I wouldn’t know Jesus today.
In 2004, my wife and I had the privilege of attending Billy Graham’s last crusade on the west coast — at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. It was like a step back in time to the old tent revival days, complete with George Beverly Shea singing “I’d Rather Have Jesus” at age 95. What a voice!
As we waited for the evening’s festivities to begin, I marveled at the massive crowd and variety of cultures assembled in the name of Jesus. I was reminded several times of the scene in Revelation 5 where we are told “myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands,” indeed, “every created thing” (Rev. 5:11, 13) will gather together to worship our blessed Lord.
Natalie and I were particularly impressed how Dr. Graham’s sermon was saturated with scripture throughout. I will forever be indebted to this man, and praise God he has now entered his heavenly reward. Here is an article by Steve Lawson with much more on the man and his ministry.
Dr. Graham finished his race, and over the next few days, we will hear stories of his legacy. Now it is our turn to carry the powerful torch of the gospel to a whole new generation, “that a people yet to be created may praise the LORD” (Psalm 102:18).
Another great evangelist, the Apostle Paul, said it best of Billy Graham: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10:15)