American Evangelist Billy Graham Passes Away at the Age of 99
At the age of 99, the Rev. Billy Graham has passed away at his mountaintop home in Montreat, North Carolina. Over the course of eight decades, Billy Graham reached more people with the Gospel of Jesus than anyone before in history.
Through his life, ministry and crusades, Billy Graham preached to nearly 215 million people worldwide, according to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Through radio, television, and movies, Graham pioneered evangelism in the modern technological age, and introduced many people to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Billy Graham’s eldest son Franklin Graham, who is also an evangelist like his father, announced his father’s passing this morning on social media. His post reads, “My father Billy Graham was once asked, “Where is Heaven?” He replied, “Heaven is where Jesus is, and I am going to Him soon!” This morning, at the age of 99, he departed this world into eternal life in Heaven, prepared by the Lord Jesus Christ — the Savior of the world — whom he proclaimed for nearly 80 years. He will be missed by our family, his colleagues, faithful ministry partners, and, yes, many around the world. But, what joy he has to be welcomed by God the Father, and be reunited with my mother in the presence of Jesus who speaks peace to eternal souls.”
In Graham fashion, Franklin’s somber news wouldn’t be complete without offering readers with the gift of salvation. His statement concludes, “What about you? When you depart this world do you know with certainty where you will spend eternity? You can know this today. Jesus said, ‘For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life’ (John 3:16). The One who comforts weary souls has given us this promise, ‘Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. . . I go to prepare a place for you. . . I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also’ (John 14:1-3).”
Fame and prestige came early to The Rev. Billy Graham, who was born Nov. 7, 1918.
At 16, in the autumn of 1934, he surrendered his life to Jesus Christ at a revival led by the the Rev. Mordecai Ham, an itinerant preacher from Kentucky. While attending the Florida Bible Institute, he felt called to the ministry by God and wound up at Wheaton College with a degree in anthropology in 1943. It was there he met and married Ruth Bell, the daughter of a missionary surgeon who had gone to China. The same year, at age 24, he became pastor of a Baptist church in a suburb of Chicago, where he also tool over an hour of Sunday sermonizing and gospel singing on a Chicago radio station.
Shortly thereafter, Graham became the chief preacher for the Youth for Christ rallies run by a radio evangelist, the Rev. Torrey M. Johnson, and the owner of a religious bookstore, George W. Wilson. He and the two men then established the Graham Youth for Christ, which organized Christian “crusades” in the United States and Great Britain.
Then, at the age of 30, Graham began a three-week, 6,000-seat tent revival in Los Angeles. When the newspaper tycoon heard that Rev. Graham had converted Stuart Hamblen, radio’s first singing cowboy, he is said to have told his newspaper editors, “Puff Graham.” Graham became a national sensation and was only 35 when TIME magazine put him on its cover and when he spoke to more than 100,000 people at Olympic Stadium in Berlin in 1954.
Since the 1950s, many of Graham’s crusades have been broadcast on national and international TV.
According to press reports, he was often recorded as saying, “This is not mass evangelism, but personal evangelism on a mass scale.”
As millions of people responded positively to Graham’s simple Gospel message, he started meeting personally with presidents and vice presidents, from Pres. Truman Eisenhower to Pres. Obama (he was too frail to meet with Pres. Trump after the inauguration but his son, Franklin, has prayed with Trump). For the most part, however, Graham mostly stayed out of politics, to concentrate on preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ and biblical principles whenever he spoke publicly.
Billy Graham also had a friendship with Queen Elizabeth II over the decades. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Had it not been for the ministry of my good friend Dr. Billy Graham, my work in the civil rights movement would not have been as successful as it has been.” Many professionals in the entertainment industry found their lives transformed by the preacher too. TODAY host Kathie Lee Gifford said that Billy Graham “changed [her] life forever,” and Johnny Cash, who had a long struggle with drugs and fame, was transformed by Billy because of Jesus and would speak at Graham’s crusades.
His presence with us will be missed, but the staff at Movieguide® will be eternally grateful for the grace, love, compassion and good news Billy Graham delivered to the world, not for the sake of himself, but for the Glory of God and His Kingdom.
Graham is survived by his sons, the Rev. Nelson Graham, known as Ned, and the Rev. William Franklin Graham III; three daughters, Anne Graham Lotz, Virginia Tchividjian (known as Gigi), and Ruth Graham McIntyre; and, many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. His wife, Ruth, died in 2007.
“My home is in Heaven. I’m just traveling through this world.” ~ Billy Graham
“Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.” – Billy Graham