The Nation Remembers, Mourns Billy Graham 1918-2018

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Evangelist Billy Graham died Feb. 21st at his home in Montreat, N.C. of natural causes. He was 99 years old.

Graham, born William Franklin Graham, Jr., was one of the most influential evangelical leaders of our time.

Tommy Green, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention, said Graham was an inspiration to multiple generations of Christians.

“Dr. Billy Graham impacted the world with the faithful preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” Green said. “Graham presented a clear invitation for individuals to respond to the presentation of salvation in Christ.”

His Ministry

According to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Graham has preached to more live audiences than anyone in history and hundreds of thousands of people in more than 185 countries have made personal decisions to follow Jesus as a result.

The beginning of Billy Graham’s ministry has its roots here in Florida. He was ordained at Peniel Baptist Church in Palatka in 1939, just five years after making his public profession of faith at a revival service being led by traveling evangelist Mordecai Ham. He studied Scripture at Florida Bible Institute, which is now Trinity College of Florida in New Port Richey.

Through his traveling Crusades, Graham was granted access to places not normally open to the Gospel, like the former Soviet Union. He has ministered to heads of state all over the world and has been a spiritual advisor to many U.S. presidents.

Florida Reacts

Tom Kinchen, president of The Baptist College of Florida, lamented Dr. Graham’s passing, comparing him to John the Baptist: “There was a man sent from God and his name was Billy Graham.”

“This is more than the passing of an era, it’s the passing of an epoch in American Christianity,” Kinchen said, adding: “More than any man in this last century, Billy Graham brought us to face the ethical and moral issues of our time and our individual responsibility in those.”

Kinchen said he most admired Graham’s ability to be “quiet in his work in the midst of a maelstrom of activity and noise” as well as Graham’s complete focus on the Gospel.

“It was always the simple unvarnished truth of the Gospel – there was no seeking to bring attention to himself,” he said.

Mac Brunson, co-pastor of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, tweeted: “It was my joy and honor to be his pastor. Every time he saw, called or wrote me it was a word of encouragement. What a man of God.” Brunson led First Baptist Church in Dallas while Graham was a member there.

“I doubt, sadly, that we will ever experience in our lifetime another man like Billy Graham,” Brunson said. “However, we all had the privilege of being part of the generation who heard his voice, watched his life, and saw the hand of God move in an extraordinary way.”

National Outpouring

Around the nation, SBC leaders reacted to Graham’s passing.

Frank Page, president and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee tweeted: “Praising the Lord today for the ministry of Billy Graham. He was my hero, my mentor from a far even as a child. Heaven is a richer place!”

David Platt, president of the International Mission Board, tweeted a quote from Graham himself: “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.”

Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission, summed up the impact of Graham’s ministry by tweeting: “Billy Graham was, in my view, the most important evangelist since the Apostle Paul. He preached Christ, not himself, not politics, not prosperity. When many saw evangelicals as just so many Emer Gantrys, he carried unimpeachable personal integrity.”

J.D. Greear, pastor of Summit Church in North Carolina, took to Twitter to say: “Wow. Billy Graham has gone on to be with Jesus. A man God used to bring more people to Jesus than anyone else in history. What an incredible loss for us – may God raise up 10,000 in his place.”

By Nicole Kalil & Keila Diaz, Florida Baptist Convention, February 21, 2018

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