“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.” – Billy Graham
Early last Wednesday we received word that one of the most significant and influential Christians of the last 100 years, Dr. Billy Graham, had gone home to be with the Lord. He was the face and the voice of evangelical Christianity. Not the highly politicized, culturally conservative Christian so often misrepresented by the media as evangelical today; but the simple biblical Christian; intelligent and informed, compassionate,respectful, and focused on one main thing–introducing people to the person of Jesus Christ, Savior and Lord.
We miss him already. We also celebrate that he is now receiving the only accolade to which he ever aspired–the “well done good and faithful servant” from the lips of his Lord.
My first encounter with Dr. Graham was as a young teenager attending a crusade in Columbus OH–listening to his very simple message (his message was always very simple and straightforward) and the invitation “Come now to Jesus and give him your heart,:
Later as a young adult, attending an Urbana Conference on World Missions as a reporter for my denominational magazine, I sat in on a press conference, a room of men and women who met with him for more than an hour asking probing questions and receiving straightforward and respectful answers even to the more impertinent questioners. The clarity and dignity I saw that day spoke volumes to me about dealing with others as a leader.
As a middle aged pastor, I was blessed to attend one of his Schools of Evangelism in Lake Louise Alberta Canada. I went on a scholarship from his association, my only real expense was $55 Canadian per night and meals at a five-star hotel. He was not there personally–but the speakers assembled gave some of the most helpful and culturally relevant teaching I had ever received on the topic of evangelism, locking down my own passion to help make disciples for Jesus Christ.
His simple wisdom can be found in several quotes now circulating social media:
“I will be a friend to men of both parties, but I would never say that I was, even indicated that I was, for one or the other. I am for God. I don’t think there’s any hope for the world except in God.”
“We are a society poised on the brink of self-destruction. But what is the real cause? What is the problem? The problem is within ourselves.”
“The will of God will not take us where the grace of God cannot sustain us.”
“We are the Bibles the world is reading; we are the creeds the world is needing; we are the sermons the world is heeding.”