Billy Graham, who preached the good news of Jesus Christ to millions of people across the globe, has died at his home in North Carolina. He was 99.
Graham met kings, presidents, celebrities and many more ordinary men and women – some 200 million across 185 countries – over the decades. But whoever he preached to, his message of salvation in Jesus Christ remained the same.
During his ministry, Graham stood against racism, at one point tearing down ropes separating the ‘white’ and ‘black’ sections at a meeting in Tennessee.
Graham and the Queen
He explained in his 2005 autobiography that he had previously “adopted the attitudes” of his home area in America’s South, but subsequently changed his mind.
Later he declared: “Christianity is not a white man’s religion”, “don’t let anybody ever tell you that it’s white or black. Christ belongs to all people.”
Graham came to the UK on numerous occasions and had written warmly of meetings with HM the Queen, saying she had “gone out of her way to be quietly supportive of our mission”.
Preaching the Good News
Graham was born on 7 November 1918 on a North Carolina dairy farm to Christian parents.
In 1934 he became a Christian after attending a meeting hosted by a travelling evangelist.
By 1950 he was preaching to large crowds and with his team had set up the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
It has the mission to “take the message of Christ to all we can by every effective means available to us”, and is followed by over two million people across social media.
Hope in Christ?
In recent years, Graham has spent much of his time at home in North Carolina, getting updates on ministry and receiving visits from family.
He has also continued to offer spiritual wisdom, answering a question on heaven in 2009 by saying that the Bible “doesn’t answer all our questions” because “our minds are limited and heaven is far too glorious for us to understand”.
But he concluded: “Is your hope in Christ? Death is a reality—but so is God’s offer of salvation in Christ.
“Don’t put off your decision for Him, because you could be called into eternity at any moment—and then it will be too late.”
Colin Hart, Director of The Christian Institute, said: “Many people I know have friends who came to Christ through the ministry of Billy Graham.
“He faithfully proclaimed the gospel and also spoke out on issues that were against the consensus of the day – not only racism in the 1950’s but more recently on same-sex marriage.”