China's top sculptor and painter Yuan Xikun made two bronze statues to honor the late Billy Graham, the world-renowned evangelist who died on February 21, 2018, according to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. The unveiling ceremony was held at the North Carolina-based ministry on Sept 28.
The sculptures are named Billy Graham as Messenger of Hope and Billy Graham as Sower, Yuan remarking that he plans to regard these sculptures as his final products. Hailed as "Portrait Diplomat", Yuan has drawn ink- wash portraits for 152 Chinese and foreign politicians since he started his career.
The first bust immortalizes Billy Graham's efforts to share the Gospel with more than 215 million people in 185 countries. For the latter statue, Franklin Graham said, "What I love about this statue is it's portraying my father as a sower, sowing the Gospel seed. And my father did that in country after country after country, opportunity after opportunity. He preached the Gospel and would give an invitation for people to put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ."
Yuan Xikun said, "There is an intimate relationship between art and religion. Both of them have many things in common." He donated the sculptures to commemorate the preacher's influential life and ties with China.
Graham's father-in-law, Lemuel Nelson Bell, was a medical missionary to China, and his wife Ruth, called a "daughter of Huaiyin", has the deep connections with China. Billy Graham and his wife went to Huai'an, China, Ruth's birthplace and home for 17 years when they got married. The preacher's sons and grandsons have been to China a few times and some of them have visited Ruth's birthplace, keeping precious bonds with China that last for generations.