Billy Graham Dies At 99

0
158
Billiy Graham
Bubble_Pop_Fun_Blast

Billy Graham, famous evangelist popularly known as “America’s Pastor,” has died at the age of 99,

The Associated Press reports that Graham died at his home Wednesday morning from natural causes, a family spokesman told  ABC News.

 

Born in 1918 in Charlotte, North Carolina, William Franklin Graham Jr. was the oldest of the four children of William and Morrow Graham.

2016 Hot Business Ideas

 

He was raised on a dairy farm, and little in his childhood suggested he would become a world-renowned preacher.

 

At 16, Graham attended a series of revival meetings run by outspoken evangelist Mordecai Ham.

Graham received additional training at Illinois’ Wheaton College, where he met his future wife, Ruth McCue Bell. They were married for 64 years, until her death in 2007, and had five children.

 

After serving briefly as the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Western Springs, Illinois, Graham launched his first radio program, “Songs in the Night,” in 1943. Although he left a year later, Graham liked the idea of sharing his message with a wide audience. As noted on his website, Graham took Jesus Christ literally when he said in Mark 16:15: “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.”

 

Graham was still in his early 30s when entered the public spotlight by giving a series of well-attended “sin-smashing” revival meetings that were held under a circus tent in a Los Angeles parking lot. The press took interest in the charismatic young preacher and began writing articles about him. To get his message to even more people, Graham founded his own ministry, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

ALSO READ  Manhunt for Kazeem Olalekan, Gay Partner in Abeokuta

 

Graham mat his wife, Ruth McCue Bell, at Illinois’ Wheaton College. They were married for 64 years and had five children. (Bettmann via Getty Images)

Graham viewed the Bible as the infallible word of God. He believed that Jesus led a sinless life and that all men were lost and would face God’s judgment. Most importantly, he was convinced he must use “every modern means of communication available” to spread the Gospel throughout the world, and did so in print, on radio and television, online and in person.

 

Graham’s sermons promoted evangelism and railed against “godless communism,” drugs, sex and violence. And for the next five decades, his electric personality connected with audiences in more than 185 countries.

 

Graham was the first evangelist of note to speak behind the Iron Curtain, and during the Apartheid era he refused to visit South Africa until the government allowed integrated seating at his events. He published dozens of best-selling books, including Angels: God’s Secret Agents and The Jesus Generation, and wrote a weekly column that was syndicated in hundreds of newspapers.

 

After serving briefly as the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Western Springs, Illinois, Graham launched his first radio program in 1943. (Toronto Star Archives via Getty Images)

After serving briefly as the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Western Springs, Illinois, Graham launched his first radio program in 1943. (Toronto Star Archives via Getty Images)

Graham received numerous honors, including the Horatio Alger Award, the George Washington Honor Medal, the Ronald Reagan Freedom Award and the Congressional Gold Medal. A highway in Charlotte bears his name, as does part of Interstate 240 near his home in Asheville, North Carolina. In 1989, he became the first clergyman to be granted a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work as a minister.

ALSO READ  Division in Obas council not justifiable-Olowa of Igbaraoke

 

Graham also had a major effect on the civil rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s. His early crusades were segregated, but once the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling in 1954, which found public school segregation unconstitutional, Graham integrated the seatings at his revival meetings.

 

Graham befriended the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as well, and together they preached to more than 2 million people in New York City. When questioned about his views on faith and race, Graham argued there was no scriptural basis for segregation.

 

Graham became the first clergyman to be granted a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work as a minister. He’s seen attending that ceremony in 1989 in Hollywood, California. (Ron Galella, Ltd. via Getty Images)

Graham became the first clergyman to be granted a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work as a minister. He’s seen attending that ceremony in 1989 in Hollywood, California. (Ron Galella, Ltd. via Getty Images)

 

As his message spread, Graham was granted personal audiences with royalty, dignitaries and many sitting presidents, from Harry S. Truman to Barack Obama. Three presidents were even on hand in 2007 for the dedication of the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte. Despite being a registered Democrat, Graham opposed the candidacy of John F. Kennedy, and actively encouraged other religious leaders to speak out about the dangers of having a Roman Catholic in the White House.

 

Though beloved by millions, Graham was not without his detractors. Some fundamentalist Christians took issue with his ecumenical approach to evangelism, and after his 1957 crusade in New York, opponents of Graham’s more liberal theology began calling him “the Antichrist.” According to the biography Billy: A Personal Look at Bill Graham, the World’s Best-Loved Evangelist by Sherwood Eliot Wirt, one Christian educator even said that Graham was “the worst thing to happen to the Christian church in two thousand years.” More recently, detractors blasted Graham’s continued belief that homosexual behavior was a “sinister form of perversion,” and his intolerance against the very presence of gay and lesbian couples within Christianity.

ALSO READ  Hold government accountable for promises not kept, says ASUU

 

As his health began to fail, Graham decided to announce his retirement in 2005. His final sermon, “The Cross ― Billy Graham’s Message To America,” called for a national spiritual awakening.

 

Nina Golgowski contributed reporting.

 

This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

LEAVE A REPLY

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.