On Wednesday, millions are mourning as renowned evangelist to the world Billy Graham passed away at the age of 99 in his home in Montreat, North Carolina.
Born on November 7, 1918 before the armistice that ended World War I, Graham is considered by many as the Evangelist to the World, preaching Christ's gospel to almost 215 million people who attended his crusades, simulcasts and rallies in 185 countries around the world. He has also preached through books, the internet and even in television.
He is also known as a spiritual advisor to US presidents (from Harry S. Truman to Barack Obama) championed desegregation and became a symbol for hope in trying times. In 2001, he spoke before the National Cathedral in Washington to address the world after the September 11 attacks. He also gathered fellow evangelists from 208 countries for three major global conferences advocating the word of Christ worldwide and why it should be shared.
When asked about the turning point in his life that got him into the path of religion, Graham shared that it was his encounter with travelling evangelist Mordecai Fowler Ham in 1934 that inspired him to serve. He even added that "I was opposed to evangelism. But finally, I was persuaded by a friend [to go to a meeting of Fowler Ham]... and the spirit of God began to speak to me as I went back night after night. One night, when the invitation was given to accept Jesus, I just said, 'Lord, I'm going.' I knew I was headed in a new direction."
Graham is survived by his sister Jean Ford, his children Gigi, Anne, Ruth, Franklin and Ned, 19 grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren. His wife, Ruth Bell, died on June 14, 2017 at the age of 87. Bell was also known for her philanthrophy and several works related to the ministry. She was born in Qingjiang, Jiangsu, China and her parents were medical missionaries stationed at the Presbyterian Hospital near Shanghai. She and Graham got married in 1943 after college and lived with their children in North Carolina.
A private funeral service is planned at the Billy Graham Library and Graham will be buried beside his wife.
To anyone who wish to write notes of remembrance for the late evangelist, they could be written at billygraham.org. Gifts and flowers can be sent online or to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in Charlotte, North Carolina.