Billy Graham, the evangelist who preached worldwide, died on Wednesday in his home at Montreat, NC. The United States and the world remembers him as a man dedicated to preaching the Gospel amid the controversies and social ills of World War II, the civil rights movement and the Watergate scandal.
Graham was born a farmer’s son in North Carolina in 1918, not ten years before the Great Depression. Graham rose from these adverse conditions to fill stadiums and arenas with evangelistic revivals and powerful messages. Graham was a comfort and counselor to many presidents, including Lyndon Johnson, Bill Clinton, Richard Nixon and Barack Obama. Despite his great success, Graham seemed to loathe the incredible attention he’d garnered. “I despise all this attention upon me. I wish we could publicize the meetings in some way in which my name were not used. I’m not trying to bring people to myself, nor am I trying to interest people in me, but I know that God has sent me out as a warrior.”
Graham graduated from Wheaton College with a degree in anthropology. Aminta Arrington, another Wheaton alumna, remembers Graham as a moderating voice in a divisive Christian environment. “We lost an evangelical voice in the public square who earnestly sought inclusion over division, and there’s no one available in the Christian landscape today to replace that voice.”
Graham preached peace and hope. Above all, Graham asked everyone to look not to himself or any current administration but to Christ. “Religion without a personal encounter with Jesus Christ will not save the soul, and it will not bring the peace that your soul longs for,” Graham once said. His life reflects the mission of a sinner who knew his goal and desire
was Christ alone.