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U.S. evangelist Billy Graham to be laid to rest in North Carolina

Members of the public visit the late U.S. evangelist Billy Graham as he lies in honor in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. February 28, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

By Ian Simpson

(Reuters) – U.S. evangelist Billy Graham, who preached to millions around the world in a 70-year career, will be laid to rest on Friday in his native North Carolina following a funeral service that will draw thousands of mourners including President Donald Trump.

The service for Graham, who died on Feb. 21 at age 99, comes after he lay in honor at the U.S. Capitol in recognition of a clergyman who counseled presidents and was the first noted evangelist to take his message to the Soviet bloc.

Graham will later be buried in a pine coffin made by Louisiana prison inmates next to his late wife, Ruth, at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina, organizers said.

The 90-minute funeral service is scheduled to start at 12 p.m. EST. It will be held at a library parking lot under a tent emblematic of Graham’s 1949 Los Angeles revival under canvas that marked his breakthrough as an evangelist.

“It was Mr. Graham’s explicit intent that his funeral service reflect and reinforce the Gospel message that he preached” for decades – the need for a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, Mark DeMoss, a spokesman for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, said in a statement.

Trump, a Republican, will be among about 2,300 invited guests, along with first lady Melania Trump and Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, organizers said.

Graham’s son, the Rev. Franklin Graham, will deliver the eulogy at the funeral service, which will include singing by Grammy winner Michael Smith.

One of the guests, Jim Daly, the head of the Focus on the Family evangelical organization, said the funeral would be “a tribute to a wonderful life. This man lived it well.”

Asked about the prospects of another evangelist like Graham arising, Daly said by phone, “No diamond is alike. In that regard, Billy Graham was a unique gemstone that God created.”

Graham’s headstone will carry his name, dates of birth and death and the inscription “Preacher of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ” above the Bible reference “John 14:6.”

According to his ministry, Graham preached Christianity to more people than anyone else in history. Some 77 million saw him in person, and nearly 215 million more watched his crusades on television or through satellite link-ups, it has said.

Graham also became the de facto White House chaplain to several presidents, most famously Richard Nixon.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

Reverend Billy Graham Goes Home

Evangelist Billy Graham speaks to members of the media at a news conference in New York, U.S. June 21, 2005. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

By Kami Klein

Reverend Billy Graham, considered to be the world’s greatest evangelistic force, is now in the embrace of His Loving Father in Heaven. Throughout his life He was regarded by contemporaries as humorous, non-judgmental, sincere, innocent and accepting. This powerful voice advised twelve Presidents and his wisdom earnestly sought by influential world leaders and royalty throughout the world.  This champion was a lion who’s heart wished only to give God’s biblical word to all who sought salvation, and he roared God’s message for over seven decades leading millions to Christ.    

Born on November 7, 1918, in Charlotte, North Carolina, Billy Graham was preaching at an L.A. revival and was a guest on Stuart Hamblen’s radio show in 1949. The publicity made Graham a superstar and he began broadcasting his sermons globally by eventually incorporated the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA). Graham began broadcasting his sermons over the radio during a Christian show called Songs in the Night. Once a week he also hosted a program called The Hour of Decision, a program ABC initially transmitted to 150 stations before reaching its peak of 1,200 stations across America.

The Era of  television brought his ministry to new heights although it was Billy Graham’s live crusades that would bring hundreds of thousands of people to his meetings. To listen to Billy Graham “live” brought the Holy Spirit directly to your heart and it spoke to Millions. Billy Graham has preached the Gospel to more people in live audiences than anyone else in history—nearly 215 million people in more than 185 countries and territories—through various meetings, including Mission World and Global Mission. Over 3 million accepted Christ!  Hundreds of millions more have been reached through television, video, film, and webcasts.  

In 1943, Billy married Ruth McCue Bell. Ruth was the daughter of a missionary, and lived with her family in China until she turned 17. After graduating with a bachelor’s in anthropology, Graham and Bell were married on August 13, 1943. They would eventually raise five children together, Franklin Graham, Anne Graham Lotz, Gigi Graham, Ned Graham and Ruth Graham.  

During his Ministry, Graham was 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 Empir

 In 1992, Graham announced that he was diagnosed with hydrocephalus, a disease similar to Parkinson’s Disease. His son William Franklin Graham III was chosen to take over BGEA upon his father’s retirement. Billy and his wife Ruth eventually retired to their home in Montreat, North Carolina, in 2005. In 2007, Ruth Graham passed away from pneumonia and degenerative osteoarthritis. Though filled with grief, Billy Graham was determined to continue his mission and it wasn’t until his 95th birthday that Reverend Billy Graham gave his last public sermon. In it, Graham spoke with the strength of his years, warning of a cultural slide in American Society saying that the nation is in great need of “a spiritual awakening.”

“There’ve been times I’ve wept as I’ve gone city to city and I’ve seen how far people have wandered from God,” he told viewers of the television tribute to his ministry called “The Cross”.

One of the most talked about Crusades of Billy’s life occurred in 1958. Billy Graham led an evangelistic campaign in his home town of Charlotte, North Carolina that lasted from September 21 to October 25. The meetings, which were held at the joint invitation of most of the churches in the city and the surrounding area, were held in city’s Coliseum, with overflow crowds watching the meetings on closed circuit television in the Ovens Auditorium next door. Total attendance for the five weeks was 423,387 people, of whom 17,653 came forward for salvation. Below is an excerpt from one of his sermons during that time which is as relevant today as it was then.  

Gazing down at the thousands of people gathered for Revival, Reverend Billy Graham spoke out with kind authority…

“God, looking down from heaven one day, saw this earth in its turmoil and strife and sinfulness, saw us in our lost condition, saw us in our sins. And the Bible says that God said, “I love you. I love you. I love you. I want to save you.”

But how could God? He fills all of space. He is the mighty God of creation that flung those billions of stars out into space. So God did something that astounded the universe. God became a man. That’s who Jesus Christ was. He was God. And when I see Jesus making the blind to see, I see God. When I see Jesus feeding the five thousand, I see God interested in the hunger and the desires of men. When I see Jesus dying on the cross,

I see God in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself. I see the nails in His hands. I see the spike in His feet. I see the crown of thorns on His brow. I hear Him say, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” [see Matthew 27:46]. In that terrible moment, Jesus was separated from God in a mysterious way that none of us understood. And now God said, “This is my Son, in whom I am well pleased. Believe in Him. Receive Him. And I will save you.” [See Matthew 17:5.]

But Jesus didn’t stay on the cross. They put Him in the tomb, and on the third day He rose again. And I do not offer you this afternoon a dead Christ. I offer you a risen Christ, a Christ that is at the right hand of God the Father, and who is someday going to come to judge the quick and the dead [see Acts 10:41,42]. I offer you a triumphant Christ who is going to win.

A lot of people say, “Do you think communism is going to win the world?” They might win it temporarily, but it will only be temporarily. Because the Bible says that Jesus Christ is going to establish His kingdom, and the church shall someday triumph. Someday those of us who know Christ shall reign.

Reverend Graham passed away at his home in Montreat, North Carolina, on February 21, 2018, at the age of 99. Although his health had been in decline in recent years, he reportedly died of natural causes.

At the end of the broadcast for “The Cross”, Graham invited viewers to become followers of Jesus as he know doubt would do the very same today, on his day of entering heaven….

“Today, I’m asking you to put your trust in Christ,”

He would pray this prayer for all of us, would you please take a moment to pray together with us now?

Dear God, I’m a sinner. I’m sorry for my sins. I want to turn from my sins. I believe Jesus Christ is your Son. I believe He died for my sin and that You raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Jesus, I put my trust in You and I surrender my life to You. Please come into my life and fill me with Your Holy Spirit. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

Today, Heaven did indeed receive one of Christ’s greatest warriors!

 

Billy Graham, preacher to millions, adviser to U.S. presidents, dies at 99

By Bill Trott

(Reuters) – U.S. evangelist Billy Graham, who counseled presidents and preached to millions across the world from his native North Carolina to communist North Korea during his 70 years in the pulpit, died on Wednesday at the age of 99, a spokesman said.

Graham died at 8 a.m. EST (1300 GMT) at his home in Montreat, North Carolina, according to Jeremy Blume, a spokesman for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

According to his ministry, he preached Christianity to more people than anyone else in history, reaching hundreds of millions of people either in person or via TV and satellite links.

Graham became the de facto White House chaplain to several U.S. presidents, most famously Richard Nixon. He also met with scores of world leaders and was the first noted evangelist to take his message behind the Iron Curtain.

“He was probably the dominant religious leader of his era,” said William Martin, author of “A Prophet With Honor: The Billy Graham Story.” “No more than one or two popes, perhaps one or two other people, came close to what he achieved.”

Graham found himself at times in controversy over his disapproving stand on gay rights, as well as a over a secretly recorded conversation with Nixon in which the cleric complained that Jews had too much influence on the U.S. media. In the later years of his career he intentionally muted his political beliefs to focus on the Gospel.

Graham was no longer a close associate of presidents in recent years but many former U.S. leaders paid tribute on Wednesday. President Donald Trump said on Twitter: “The GREAT Billy Graham is dead. There was nobody like him! He will be missed by Christians and all religions. A very special man.”

In a rare trip away from his home in his later years, Graham had celebrated his 95th birthday on Nov. 7, 2013, at a hotel in Asheville, North Carolina, where some 800 guests, including Trump, business magnate Rupert Murdoch and television hostess Kathie Lee Gifford paid tribute.

The event featured a video of a sermon that his son Franklin said was Graham’s last message to the nation. Graham had been working for a year on the video, which was aired on Fox News. In it, he said America was “in great need of a spiritual awakening.”

With his steely features and piercing blue eyes, Graham was a powerful figure when he preached in his prime, roaming the stage and hoisting a Bible as he declared Jesus Christ to be the only solution to humanity’s problems.

In his heyday Graham had a thunderous, quick-burst speaking style that earned him the nickname “God’s Machine Gun.” Through his “Crusades for Christ,” Graham sowed fields of devotion across the American heartland that would become fertile ground for the growth of the religious right’s conservative political movement.

MEDIA MASTERY

His influence was fueled by an organization that carefully planned his religious campaigns, putting on international conferences and training seminars for evangelical leaders, Martin said.

Graham’s mastery of the media was ground-breaking. In addition to radio and publishing, he used telephone lines, television and satellites to deliver his message to homes, churches and theaters around the world.

Some 77 million saw him preach in person while nearly 215 million more watched his crusades on television or through satellite link-ups, a Graham spokeswoman said.

Graham started meeting with presidents during the tenure of Harry Truman. He played golf with Gerald Ford, skinny-dipped in the White House pool with Lyndon Johnson, vacationed with George H.W. Bush and spent the night in the White House on Nixon’s first day in office.

George W. Bush gave Graham credit for helping him rediscover his faith and in 2010, when it was difficult for Graham to travel, Barack Obama made the trip to the preacher’s log cabin home in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains.

Graham’s ties to the White House were mutually beneficial. His reputation was enhanced as preacher to the presidents, while the politicians boosted their standing with religiously inclined voters.

“Their personal lives – some of them – were difficult,” Graham, a registered Democrat, told Time magazine in 2007 of his political acquaintances. “But I loved them all. I admired them all. I knew that they had burdens beyond anything I could ever know or understand.”

Graham’s reputation took a hit because of Nixon after the release of 1972 White House tapes in which the two were heard making anti-Semitic comments. Graham later said he did not remember the conversation and apologized.

In the early half of his career, Graham often spoke his mind on social and political issues of the day, including his strong anti-communist sentiments. He dismissed Vietnam War protesters as attention-seekers and, while he eventually refused to hold segregated revival meetings, he did not take an active role in the 1960s civil rights movement.

But Graham’s politics were not as overt as those of some religious leaders who came after him, such as Pat Robertson, who ran for president in 1988, and Jerry Falwell, co-founder of the Moral Majority, an organization whose purpose was to promote Christian-oriented politics.

As he grew older, Graham said he felt he had become too involved in some issues and shifted to a middle-of-the-road position in order to reach more people. He did, however, dive into the gay marriage issue in 2012 when he came out in support of a state amendment to ban same-sex marriages in North Carolina. He also met with Republican Mitt Romney in October 2012 and told him he supported Romney’s run for the presidency.

FROM FARM TO PULPIT

William Franklin Graham was born on Nov. 7, 1918, into a Presbyterian family and was known as Billy Frank while growing up on a farm near Charlotte, North Carolina. As a teenager, he said he was mostly preoccupied with baseball and girls until he was moved by God after hearing a fiery revivalist in Charlotte.

After attending Bob Jones College, Graham ended up at a Bible school in Florida, where he would preach at his first revival, and was ordained in 1939 by a church in the Southern Baptist Convention. He received a scholarship to Wheaton College near Chicago, where he met Ruth Bell, whose parents were missionaries in China. They married in 1943.

Rather than work from a home church, Graham went on the road, preaching in tents and building a following. His breakthrough came with a 1949 Los Angeles tent crusade that was scheduled for three weeks but extended to eight because of the overflow crowds he attracted.

The success of the Los Angeles campaign and the fame it brought Graham was attributed to media magnate William Randolph Hearst, who had liked Graham’s style and anti-communist stance so much that he ordered his newspapers to give Graham a boost.

Graham eventually outgrew tent revivals and would preach at some of the most famous venues in the world, such as Yankee Stadium and Madison Square Garden in New York and London’s Wembley Stadium. He delivered sermons around the globe, including in remote African villages, China, North Korea, the Soviet Union, East Germany, Czechoslovakia and Hungary.

Liberals accused him of giving credibility to abusive governments while fundamentalist Christians criticized him for going to godless countries and promoting peaceful relations with them. Graham said he simply saw the trips as apolitical opportunities to win souls for Christ.

Graham concluded his career of religious campaigns in June 2005 in New York with a three-day stand that attracted more than 230,000 people, his organization said. He turned over his evangelical association to his son Franklin, who did not shy away from politics and frequently praised Trump once he became president.

Graham’s other four children were also evangelists.

REPUTATION

Graham managed to maintain his public integrity even as other TV star evangelists such as Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart were hit in the 1980s by financial and sex scandals. To keep his reputation pristine, Graham had a policy of never being alone with any woman other than Ruth.

Graham’s closest presidential relationship was with Nixon, who offered him any government job he wanted – including ambassador to Israel. It turned out to be a painful relationship for Graham, who said Nixon and his circle misled him on the Watergate scandal.

Nixon aide H.R. Haldeman first mentioned Graham’s anti-Semitic remarks in a 1994 book, which Graham strongly denied. But when audio tapes from the Nixon White House were released in 2002, Graham could be heard referring to Jews as pornographers and agreeing with Nixon that the U.S. media was dominated by liberal Jews and could send the United States “down the drain.”

Graham, who had a long history of supporting Israel, apologized again after the tapes’ release and said he had no recollection of the conversation.

“If it wasn’t on tape, I would not have believed it,” Graham told Newsweek. “I guess I was trying to please. I felt so badly about myself – I couldn’t believe it. I went to a meeting with Jewish leaders and I told them I would crawl to them to ask their forgiveness.”

The author of more than two dozen books with titles such as “How to Be Born Again,” Graham also ran the weekly “Hour of Decision” radio program broadcast around the world on Sundays for more than 50 years.

Graham helped bring religion into the television age. He first put together a television show, which was eventually syndicated, in 1951 and began live broadcasts of his revival meetings in 1957 from New York’s Madison Square Garden.

In a 2011 Fox News interview, Graham was asked what he would do differently in his career.

“I would study more. I would pray more, travel less, take less speaking engagements,” he said. “I took too many of them in too many places around the world. If I had it to do over again I’d spend more time in meditation and prayer and just telling the Lord how much I love him.”

In addition to suffering with Parkinson’s disease for many years, Graham’s health problems in his later years included a broken hip, a broken pelvis, prostate cancer and installation of a shunt in his brain to control excess fluid. He was hospitalized in 2011, 2012 and 2013 for respiratory problems.

Graham and his wife, Ruth, who died June 14, 2007, had two sons and three daughters.

Graham’s life, in pictures – http://reut.rs/2HBz9p8

(Reporting by Ed Stoddard and Bill Trott; Writing by Bill Trott; Editing by Diane Craft and Frances Kerry)

Thousands Accept Christ At Franklin Graham Crusade

God’s family has grown by thousands.

Franklin Graham hosted a Festival of Hope in Warsaw, Poland on Sunday where thousands came forward to give their lives to Christ.  Over 30,000 people attended the event according to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

“God loves you,” Graham preached to those in attendance, “And God wants to give you everlasting life, but that only comes through faith in Jesus Christ.  Will you accept His love?”

Graham shared a message based on Mark 8:34-38, emphasizing that there is nothing in the world that is more valuable than a relationship with Christ.

“You could have all the iPhones in the world,” Graham said, “Control of all the armies of the earth.  You could put all the euros and stack them in his arena.  Your soul is still more valuable.”

The event with Franklin Graham capped off a weekend of celebrations that included the annual March for Jesus through Warsaw.  Concerts took place throughout the weekend including CCM superstars Michael W. Smith and Newsboys.

“For all the new believers out there who gave their life to Christ,” Newsboys singer Michael Tait told the crowd, “I want you to live your life with abandon!”

The festival’s executive chairman told the Christian Post that many connected to the festival have been waiting for Sunday night for many years.

Billy Graham’s Health Declines

Franklin Graham told a Charlotte area TV station that his father’s health has shown significant decline in recent days.

Graham told WSOC-TV at an event to celebrate this year’s Operation Christmas Child that Billy Graham obtained an infection after his birthday and that he “just hasn’t been able to get his strength back.”

“His vitals are good, but he’s just extremely weak,” Franklin Graham said.

Billy Graham has preached to people about Jesus. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association says that more than 215 million people in 185 countries have heard Rev. Graham share the love of Christ.

“My one purpose in life is to help people find a personal relationship with God, which, I believe, comes through knowing Christ,” Billy Graham has said.

Billy Graham Released From Hospital

Billy Graham returned home from a two-day stay at Mission Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina.

Doctors say the 95-year-old Graham had been hospitalized for pulmonary-related issues and underwent tests. The two-day stay for observation was mostly precautionary.

“Mr. Graham was alert and in good spirits during his stay,” said William R. Hathaway, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Mission Hospital. “We are pleased with the results of Mr. Graham’s evaluation.”

Graham’s family thanked supporters for their prayers.

The social media site Twitter was deluged with statements from Graham’s supporters and admirers using the #PrayingForBillyGraham hashtag.

Billy Graham Hospitalized

Billy Graham has been admitted to a hospital suffering from respiratory congestion.

A spokesman for the Billy Graham Evangelical Association said that Graham has been hospitalized for similar issues over the past few years and they expect him to return home in a few days.

Graham has curtailed his public appearances after suffering from macular degeneration and hearing loss related to his advanced age. The 95-year-old Graham made an appearance as a star-studded celebration of his birthday that also celebrated the release of his new book “The Reason for Hope: Salvation.”

The BGEA asked everyone to join them in prayer for Dr. Graham.

FOX News: Why Billy Graham has hope for America

Billy Graham turns 95 on November 7. Happy Birthday!

While age and health restricts his mobility, Graham is still doing what he’s always done since 1949, he’s preaching the Gospel.

For more than 60 years, the country preacher from humble beginnings in North Carolina has become a global evangelist and statesman for God.

In that role, he has prayed personally with presidents, kings, queens, world leaders, celebrities and filled stadiums with common folk eager to hear his inspiring message. He is celebrating his birthday with a national outreach called “My Hope America.”

Source: FOX News – FOX News: Why Billy Graham has hope for America

IRS Targets Billy Graham Ministries & Other Christian Groups

In the midst of the discoveries that the IRS had been targeting conservative groups for auditing comes word that Christian organizations were also targeted by auditors.

One of those groups was the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. The BGEA had never been subjected to an IRS audit at any time in its history.

Franklin Graham, president of the BGEA, released a statement that in addition to the BGEA, the internationally respected charity Samaritan’s Purse was notified on the same day that they would be subjected to an IRS audit for the first time. Continue reading

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