Billy Graham Dead: My Personal Story of his impact on me
I remember watching Billy Graham crusades when I was young. I watched every one of them.
Billy Graham was required viewing at my home. My entire family gathered around the TV to hear this great man preach. And you weren’t allowed to say anything. You just listened. I can still see my grandfather shaking his head in approval, as something Graham said resonated inside of him.
Graham spoke to thousands, the crowds larger than those of the greatest rock stars. “How could a preacher speak to so many people?”, I marveled.
Graham captivated audiences. The onlookers seemed mesmerized by his words, as was I.
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I remember one sermon where Graham explained the situation of a bad man’s dying declaration. Graham said, “And that man uttered the most powerful words in the human language.”
I waited to hear those words. “What were the most powerful words in the human language?”, I thought. I needed to know those words.
Graham, a master at pausing for effect finished with, “The man said to Jesus, ‘What must I do to be saved?'”.
There they were. The most powerful words in the human language. I was around 10 years old, and I have never forgotten those words.
Though I didn’t realize it at the time, Billy Graham fortified my faith in God.
He did more than my church had ever done, and I mean no disrespect to my church. But subliminally, I witnessed the power of God showing me that my faith could be bigger than anything the secular world would offer me.
And now a Christian icon has passed away at the age of 99:
The Rev. Billy Graham, the charismatic North Carolina pastor who took his evangelizing crusades around the country and the globe, died on Wednesday morning, according to officials of his organization. He was 99 years old.
Graham served as a counselor or minister to a dozen U.S. presidents, and he preached to an estimated 215 million people in 185 countries around the world during his life. His message reached millions more as he maintained a near-constant presence on radio, television and the internet.
He also wrote more than two dozen books, including his 1997 memoir,” Just as I Am,” which was a New York Times bestseller
Imagine that. Reaching 215 million people in 185 countries. And for the right reasons.
I’m sad that my sons never heard Billy Graham speak in his prime. In today’s culture, it would be difficult to get people to listen to him. But if anybody could, Billy Graham in his prime could certainly do it.
Add up all the Joel Osteens, Creflo Dollars and other evangelists into one, and they couldn’t carry Graham’s luggage. And that’s not a slap to the aforementioned men of faith. I met Joel Osteen, and believe him to be genuine. He’s just no Billy Graham.
The world lost an icon today. Sadly, too few people will get to see the eloquence of Billy Graham, a committed man of God. Honestly, today I feel much like Catholics might feel if the pope died.
I’m a Christ-follower, and a sinner unworthy of the Grace of God. But so are the rest of us. I’m just happy to have witnessed God’s hand through Billy Graham, because his impact on me is immeasurable.
I grieve with the Graham family for their loss. But I know Billy Graham is in heaven, and the family knows this without a doubt.
Further, I’m glad that Franklin Graham carries the torch of his father. I pray that Christians around the world support his ministry.
RIP Billy Graham.