In life and in his death, Billy Graham continues to impact the lives of unknown multitudes of people. The 99 year old Evangelist who went home to be with the Lord on February 21, through modern media is probably preaching to more people today than he did in his lifetime. To God be the Glory.
Like many of you, I grew up under the powerful ministry of Billy Graham. I first heard of Billy Graham at the age of 10 when he drew national attention through his tent revival in Los Angeles. Watching Billy Graham Crusades on Television became a family experience that none of us wanted to miss. By the time I was entering my teenage years and feeling strongly the call of God to preach, I wanted to be just like Billy Graham. I remember going out into the woods behind our home and preaching to the birds and squirrels and trying to imitate Billy Graham with his famous “The Bible Says” declaration.
Over the years I came to the realization that I couldn’t be Billy Graham, I could only be me. As I matured, I realized that God does not call his messengers to be “copycat” or “cookie cutter types” of other messengers. He calls each one of us individually to be the unique persons that we are. I did understand that the kind of commitment that Billy Graham preached was the commitment that God wanted me to have. And most important, I came to understand that God doesn’t want us to imitate others no matter how much we might admire them. God wants us to imitate Jesus Christ.
The world is a better place because of the ministry and calling of Billy Graham. It is most appropriate that not just our nation but the world honors this faithful servant of Jesus Christ. From his lying in State at “The Cove,” a spiritual retreat near Asheville founded by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, to his childhood home now located on the campus of the Billy Graham Library, to the Rotunda of our Nation’s Capital, the public will be able to show their love and respect as they pass by his casket.
Not since the death of Charles Haddon Spurgeon in January 1892, when 60,000 people paid homage to “The Prince of Preachers” as he lay in state for three days at the Metropolitan Tabernacle where he preached to 6000 people twice each Sunday for 38 years and when 100,000 people lined the streets of London for his funeral procession, and his death was mourned around the world, has so much honor been given to a preacher of the Gospel.
The last words of Spurgeon to his congregation are also appropriate for Billy Graham, “We would have it so happen that, when our life’s history is written, whoever reads it will not think of us as “self-made men,” but as the handiwork of God in whom his grace is magnified. Not in us may men see the clay, but the Potter’s hand.”
In His Love, Charles