Influential evangelist Billy Graham dies at 99
Billy Graham dubbed “America’s Pastor” and one of the most influential evangelists, has died at 99 years old.
After travelling to 185 countries and preaching to over 215 million people in 400 crusades, rallies and leadership summits, Billy Graham passed away at his home in Montreat, North Carolina. He had suffered from cancer and pneumonia among other ailments.
The Moderator of the Synod of NSW and the ACT, Rev. Simon Hansford, described Billy Graham’s style of ministry as “extraordinary” and “innovative” as he drew immense crowds preaching the Good News.
“One of the marks of ministry is the lives of people engaged and transformed, as the Spirit of God works through us – both speaker and hearer, both servant and those served.
“Those who attended [Graham’s crusades] and found their lives transformed tell stories of passion and eloquence, of the gospel proclaimed in a way they understood and gave them hope,” said Rev. Hansford.
In 1959 Graham travelled to Australia attracting over 143,000 people to the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) as well as 150,000 people at the Sydney Showground and Cricket Ground . The Australian Evangelical Alliance stated that more than 130,000 people committed to Christ during his 1959 Australian tour.
“The witness of Billy Graham is more than an wonderful openness to the Spirit of God and an ability to preach; it is his integrity – in his personal and public life – over generations, including an ability to leave behind false ideas and embrace where the Spirit was calling him in new ways.
“We must continue to pray for disciples in the leadership of Christ’s church with an equal passion, an equal hope, an equal faith and an equal humility,” said Rev. Hansford.
Superintendent of Wesley Mission, Rev. Dr Keith Garner said Graham had a gift to inspire people and a ministry that advocated a message of reconciliation and hope.
“My most vivid memory of Billy Graham is at the Centenary of the Keswick Convention on the shores of Derwent Water. I admired his ministry then and since for his ability to make the Gospel real to anyone he addressed.
“He had a striking presence; he was also an unassuming, kind, generous and modest man. He could move among people from all walks of life. His legacy of biblical and evangelistic preaching has influenced billions of people around the world,” said Rev. Dr Garner.
Born in 1918 and raised on a dairy farm in North Carolina, Graham went on to become a minister to a number of US Presidents from US presidents Dwight Eisenhower to George W Bush. He was also vocal about civil rights in the 50’s and 60’s and has received countless awards and honours including the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation Freedom Award in 2000.
In his own words before his death Graham shared what he thought of his ministry and the power of Christ.
“I’m counting totally and completely on the Lord Jesus Christ, and not on Billy Graham. I’m not going to Heaven because I’ve read the Bible, nor because I’ve preached to a lot of people. I’m going to Heaven because of what Christ did.”
“I have had the privilege of preaching the Gospel … in most of the countries of the world. And I have found that when I present the simple message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with authority, quoting from the very Word of God—He takes that message and drives it supernaturally into the human heart.”
Billy Graham is survived by his sister, five children, 19 grandchildren and 41 great-grandchildren. His wife Ruth, passed away age 87 in 2007.
Image: Billy Graham (Credit: AAP)