A Titan Falls
Yesterday, it was Don Lee who brought me the news: “Did you hear that Billy Graham died today?” A few months shy of his 100th birthday, Billy’s death will resonate among both the religious and the irreligious communities in a way that perhaps no other can or ever will.
I heard Reverend Graham in person twice, once in Amsterdam at a world gathering of evangelists in 1986 and at the Tacoma Dome in 1991. In the latter, Chapel Hill was one of many churches serving in a crusade that saw 30,000 in attendance, a small portion of the estimated 215,000,000 people that saw him live and the billions that heard him preach on radio and TV.
Graham was a confidante of world leaders. He was invited to counsel and pray with every president from Eisenhower to Obama. He had a friendship with Queen Elizabeth, herself a devout Christian. In a time when the disappointing moral failures of prominent TV evangelists are too-regular and embarrassing targets for an eager media, there was never a whiff of scandal attached to his life. He was faithfully and happily married to his wife, Ruth until her death in 2007, he put in place rigorous protocols to insure that he would never be alone in a compromising situation, he took a modest salary that was determined by his board of directors, and he lived very simply up till his last day.
Reverend Graham was urged to run for political office and to make movies. He steadfastly refused, believing himself to be called to one thing: the simple proclamation of salvation through Jesus Christ. As to how many of his converts were waiting to greet him in glory on Wednesday morning, only heaven knows. But one can safely assume that no person in human history has led more people to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ than Billy Graham.
I was surprised at how impacted I was by the news of the death of “America’s Pastor.” His faithfulness, diligence, and integrity are an inspiration to everyone, but especially to every person who has been called to proclaim the gospel. He was a Titan of our faith. I doubt that we will see another like him. May the Lord’s blessing be upon Billy Graham now and forever…and may we carry on his work as we faithfully proclaim Jesus to a still-needy world.
Please, come to church this weekend. We will remember Reverend Graham, and we will talk about his savior. It will be good.