|President Obama and Billy Graham’s meeting on April 25, 2010 / Official White House Photo by Pete Souza (Flickr) via Wikimedia Commons|
“My father Billy Graham was once asked, ‘Where is Heaven?’ He replied, ‘Heaven is where Jesus is and I am going to Him soon!’”
Franklin Graham shared this anecdote before he announced via his father’s official Facebook Page that the internationally well-known evangelist passed away at the age of 99 on the morning of February 21.
The elder Graham’s spokesman, Jeremy Blume, confirmed his death and said that he died at his residence in Montreat, North Carolina, reported CNN.
For 60 years, Billy -- born William Franklin Graham Jr. in 1918 -- was able to bring his ministry to an estimated 215 million people. People in 185 countries heard his preaching.
He shared the same stage with US presidents, from Harry Truman (term: 1945-1953) to Barack Obama (2009-2017).
He provided spiritual counseling to Lyndon Johnson (1963-1969), Bill Clinton (1993-2001), and George W. Bush (2001-2009).
The CNN report describes the “great” and “very special” (as tweeted by President Trump) Graham as “tall and handsome, with a disarming aw-shucks demeanor and a Southern twang to his voice.”
An influential person, as historians would agree, people referred to him as the “Protestant pope” and “America’s Pastor.”
According to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, a Charlotte-based nonprofit organization he founded in 1950, Graham succeeded in turning 3 million people into Christians.
In 1944, he attended rallies for the Youth for Christ Campus Life ministry and spoke before the crowd. That would be the start of his missionary work.
His popularity began to rise in 1948.
Together with a tight-knit group of traveling evangelists, they listed down sins that they all pledged to avoid to safeguard their integrity as Christian preachers. The top three sins they named were “money, sexual temptation, and hubris,” according to CNN.
Other ministers adopted such pledge, which later was referred to as the “Modesto Manifesto.”
He is survived by his five children. His wife, Ruth, died in 2007.
“We may feel overwhelmed by our problems and sorrows – but God is never overwhelmed, nor do they take Him by surprise,” Billy Graham once said.