Gospel News: Billy Graham Dies At 99
Popular Christian Evangelist, Billy Graham dies today 21st February 2018 at age 99. Evangelist Graham has often addressed the topic of death with honesty and frankness. In his previous preaching’s, he said that “death was, of course, inevitable. Since no one knew when Christ would return, he said, everyone should think instead about the sure thing they did know: the certainty of their own death”.
He believed that death will fall on everyone. During his speech at former president Richard Nixon’s funeral, he reminded the family and audience that someday every one of them would die and reiterating John Donne’s statement that there’s a democracy about death – It comes equally to us all and makes us all equal when it comes.
Graham also noted elsewhere that many people tried to avoid this inescapable reality by playing word games, by changing the title of a cemetery to a memorial park, for example. But he honestly said that first, “accept the fact that you will die.” Second, “make arrangements.” Third, “make provision for those you are leaving behind.” And finally, “make an appointment with God”.
It was also not recorded that Graham died of any diseases although he announced in 1992 that he was diagnosed with hydrocephalus. It was announced that he died of natural causes.
Talking about Graham’s life, it was an undeniable fact that Graham was active in preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. He had in fact been credited with preaching to more individuals than anyone else in history, not counting the additional millions he has addressed through radio, television and books. All over the world, He was a well-known lover of God and evangelist.
His pastoral history includes him briefly pastoring the First Baptist Church in Western Springs, Illinois, before leaving to join Youth for Christ, an evangelical missionary group which spoke to returning servicemen and young people about God. Also, in 1947, Graham became president of Northwestern Schools, a group of Christian schools in Minnesota in which he resigned from Youth for Christ in 1948 and focused on Northwestern Schools until 1952, when he also resigned to concentrate on preaching.
Graham’s charismatic and salvation gospels endeared many to him. Hence, in 1949, a group called “Christ for Greater Los Angeles” invited Graham to preach at their L.A. revival. When radio personality Stuart Hamblen had Graham on his radio show, word of the revival also spread. His preaching at the L.A. revival and his appearance on Stuart Hamblen’s radio show in 1949 made him popular. The publicity propelled Billy to continue broadcasting his sermons globally to the extent that a one Time reporter tagged him “the Pope of Protestant America”. Graham was one of the personalities instrumental to the revival in America.
Billy Graham spoke out against the evils of Communism and in a 1954 interview Graham specifically said: “Either communism must die, or Christianity must die, because it is actually a battle between Christ and anti-Christ.” Thus, with the advent of nuclear weapons and the realized fragility of life, people turned to spirituality for comfort, and Graham illuminated their path thereby propagating the Christian faith in America through their need for emotional safety. His most popular quote was “I haven’t known a man who accepted Christ and rejected it”.
As his ministry kept expanding, Billy Graham felt the need to reach more people, hence he and his colleagues eventually incorporated the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) which led to his sermons being broadcasted on Radio during a Christian show called Songs in the Night and a program called The Hour of Decision hosted once every week. Soon ABC transmitted it to reach a peak of 1,200 stations across America. Eventually the program was converted into a television show which ran for three years. The success of Graham’s radio and television programs spoke to his role as a Christian media visionary because he used the media as a means for spreading the gospel of Christ, allowing him to access millions of people around the globe.
Just like any other Christian evangelist, Graham had also been criticized a number of times. He had been criticized for being too liberal and refusing to play into partisan politics. Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr labelled him “simplistic,” while evangelist Bob Jones believed Graham had done “more harm to the cause of Jesus Christ than any other living man.” President Truman even went so far as to call Graham a “counterfeit”.
However, all of his critics did not succeed in dimming his light. All through his long and impactful life, Graham had overwhelmingly been regarded in a positive light. Graham’s integrity had encouraged millions to heed his spiritual guidance, including Martin Luther King, Jr., Bono, Muhammad Ali and United States presidents from Eisenhower to Bush. He hasd also been rated by the Gallup organization as “One of the Ten Most Admired Men in the World” a whopping 51 times. He is also regarded by contemporaries as humorous, non-judgmental, sincere, innocent and accepting.
Graham was also awarded the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation Freedom Award, the Congressional Gold Medal, the Templeton Foundation Prize for Progress in Religion, the Big Brother Award, the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, and the Speaker of the Year Award. Additionally Graham was recognized by the National Conference of Christians and Jews for promoting understanding between faiths, and bestowed with the Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE).
So far, born on November 7, 1918 and died February 21, 2018; Graham had lived an amazing life worthy of emulation both as a Christian, father, evangelist, preacher and missionary.
May his soul live on in glory!