With the news that Dr. Billy Graham passed away on 21 February, tributes flooded in from around the world, including current and past presidents of his home nation of the United States.
"The GREAT Billy Graham is dead. There was nobody like him! He will be missed by Christians and all religions. A very special man."
- President Donald Trump
"Billy Graham was a humble servant who prayed for so many - and who, with wisdom and grace, gave hope and guidance to generations of Americans."
- Former President Barack Obama
"His faith in Christ and his totally honest evangelical spirit inspired people across the country and around the world. I think Billy touched the hearts of not only Christians, but people of all faiths, because he was such a good man. I was privileged to have him as a personal friend. He was a mentor to several of my children, including the former president of the United States."
- Former President George HW Bush
"he was one of the most important religious leaders in American history. His powerful words and the conviction they carried touched countless hearts and minds."
- Former President Bill Clinton
As a young farmboy from North Carolina, Billy Graham was invited as a 15-year-old to hear a preach from Mordecai Ham. From that day he was never the same, and a new passion burnt in Billy Graham's heart as he started preaching about Jesus in college.
He did not grow weary of sharing the Good News, and proceeded to lead 417 evangelistic crusades between 1947 and 2005, supported by his faithful wife Ruth. Billy Graham lived his life to bring the lost and hurting to the Lord.
His impact was not only in the US, as he had a global influence. The recent hit series "The Crown" featured one episode that highlighted Billy Graham's influence as a spiritual adviser to the young Queen Elizabeth II.
He spoke at different times at the Royal Chapel in Windsor Great Park and at the news of his passing, the Queen sent a personal message to his family.
The influence in this nation began with the remarkable events that took place when Billy Graham preached every night (except Sundays) for three months in a north London arena to 12,000 people and then to 120,000 at Wembley Stadium with an overflow service for another 65,000 at a nearby stadium.
His work in this nation ensured that the churches of Britain, which were almost empty after WW2, were filled once again.
His ministry reached millions 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.
Billy Graham was one of the most influential spiritual leaders of the 20th Century. Rolling Stone magazine said Billy Graham was bigger than Elvis and the Beatles combined. But the evangelist himself never lost sight of the fact that he was a farm boy from North Carolina that God used on a scale he never imagined.
He wanted to tell people about the meaning of the cross, and shared the simple, clear and powerful message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; His life, His crucifixion, and His resurrection. Billy Graham professed Bible truths. His trademark phrase was ‘the Bible says’. He didn’t believe the Bible contained the word of God. He believed it was the Word of God for all people, for all time.
He chose simplicity in his life, despite the opportunity for many riches and honours and even requests to run for President. He never forgot the love of God, the Holiness of God and the judgement of God. He believed in the reality of heaven and hell, and like John Wesley, DL Moody and other evangelists before him he preached that the world needs saving because sin is a disease in the human heart.
Every part of our being is affected by this disease, and it is only God who broke the chains of sin through the great sacrifice of Jesus when He took our place on the cross.
The full impact of Billy Graham's life is immeasurable, but his hope, as well as ours at King's Church International, is that many will step up in this generation and answer the call of God in the book of Isaiah: