We lost Billy Graham this week, as the world famous evangelist graduated to heaven at age 99. When I came to Christ in 1974, Billy Graham was at the height of his popularity — holding city-wide evangelistic crusades around the world and preaching to millions on TV and radio. Because of his mass evangelism, it is quite possible that no man in history has preached the gospel to more people or pointed more people to faith in Christ than Billy Graham.
I never met Billy Graham, nor did I ever attend one of his crusades. I certainly watched him preach on TV multiple times. I remember his Sunday night half-hour weekly radio broadcast as well. While I was still in journalism as God called me to preach at college, one of my close friends covered a Billy Graham crusade in Cleveland, Ohio. She did not meet him either, but she was down front interviewing people who came forward. I almost met Billy Graham in Tampa years ago.
Billy Graham was bigger than life. He was faithful to the truth of the gospel, and he was faithful to the call of God. Scandals which so often surround celebrities in every walk of life — including the ministry — never touched Billy Graham. My pastor, the late Rev. William E. Allen of Mansfield, OH, once filled in for Billy Graham in a preaching appointment. Pastor Allen was always proud of Billy Graham’s commitment to the truth and to setting a good moral and ethical example in his own life.
We salute Billy Graham. Our loss is heaven’s gain.