Billy Graham, RIP

by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz | February 21st, 2018

Readability

Billy Graham, RIP

Billy Gra­ham has died, age 99.

He was one of the most influ­en­tial peo­ple of our time:

In his career as an evan­ge­list, Gra­ham preached to more than 210 mil­lion peo­ple in more than 185 coun­tries and territories.

Inde­fati­ga­ble, he wrote a syn­di­cated news­pa­per col­umn and dozens of best-​selling books, had a radio show, and appeared on the cover of the lead­ing mag­a­zines, but he is best known for his crusades.

From the BBC obit­u­ary,

After the suc­cess of his min­istry in the US, Gra­ham wanted to take his mes­sage world­wide and he began the process in Lon­don in 1954.

Demand
It was a cal­cu­lated risk. At the time only 10% of Britons were reg­u­lar church­go­ers, com­pared with 50% in the United States.

He also faced a hos­tile British press, which was scathing about the motives of the man from Char­lotte, and he faced calls from one MP for him to be banned from enter­ing the UK

He con­ducted his first full-​scale mis­sion in a 12,000-seat audi­to­rium next to a grey­hound track at London’s Har­ringay Arena.

Such was the demand to hear him that he filled the arena every night for three months.

The final meet­ing of his UK cru­sade was held at Wem­b­ley Sta­dium, when 120,000 peo­ple heard Gra­ham speak of the recep­tion he had received in London.

These meet­ings have been far beyond any­thing we had the faith to believe pos­si­ble,” he told the crowd. “The spirit of God is mov­ing across Great Britain as per­haps at no time in the last century.”

It was the begin­ning of what would be a series of mis­sions to all parts of the globe.

Regal treat­ment
His cru­sades were always metic­u­lously planned. As his rep­u­ta­tion grew, so too did the crowds, from New York to Nige­ria. In Korea, more than a mil­lion turned out to hear him speak.

In 1957 he invited the civil rights leader Mar­tin Luther King to join him on a 16-​week stint in New York, which more than two mil­lion peo­ple attended.

Rev. Gra­ham was a trusted adviser to decades of U.S. pres­i­dents and heads of state.

His pop­u­lar­ity is such that he was por­trayed in the Net­flix series The Crown, where Queen Eliz­a­beth requested to meet him. The WaPo man­aged to fact-​check ‘The Crown’: Queen Elizabeth’s faith and her close rela­tion­ship with preacher Billy Gra­ham. Unfor­tu­nately the WaPo char­ac­ter­izes “his fiery preach­ing style,” which shows they prob­a­bly never lis­tened to him.

He was tall, good-​looking, very Amer­i­can, hugely appeal­ing, but he made a dif­fer­ence only because of his mes­sage — which res­onated not just because Billy Gra­ham spoke the words. It’s because he lived them.

“A Chris­t­ian is more than a per­son who is liv­ing up to a sys­tem of ethics. A Chris­t­ian is more than a per­son liv­ing a good moral life. A Chris­t­ian is a per­son in whom Christ dwells.” Billy Gra­ham, 1958, Charlotte

Rev. Graham’s mes­sage was “give your life to Christ and receive Him as your Sav­ior.” A direct, sim­ple mes­sage.

Here’s a video of the 1957 Madi­son Square Gar­den cru­sade, which includes a lovely per­for­mance of His Eye Is On The Spar­row by Ethel Waters,

In this video he empha­sized that “the Chris­t­ian life is one of growth.” I invite you to lis­ten. I was raised Catholic, but Rev. Graham’s mes­sage res­onates to all Chris­t­ian denominations.

Here’s a link to the Billy Gra­ham Evan­ge­lis­tic Association’s memo­r­ial site.

Shane Van­der Hart reminds us of these words from the Apos­tle Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have fin­ished the race, I have kept the faith,” (2 Tim­o­thy, 4:7). Let’s join in a prayer of thanks for Rev. Graham’s inspiration.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin Amer­ica at Fausta’s blog

Billy Graham has died, age 99.

He was one of the most influential people of our time:

In his career as an evangelist, Graham preached to more than 210 million people in more than 185 countries and territories.

Indefatigable, he wrote a syndicated newspaper column and dozens of best-selling books, had a radio show, and appeared on the cover of the leading magazines, but he is best known for his crusades.

From the BBC obituary,

After the success of his ministry in the US, Graham wanted to take his message worldwide and he began the process in London in 1954.

Demand
It was a calculated risk. At the time only 10% of Britons were regular churchgoers, compared with 50% in the United States.

He also faced a hostile British press, which was scathing about the motives of the man from Charlotte, and he faced calls from one MP for him to be banned from entering the UK

He conducted his first full-scale mission in a 12,000-seat auditorium next to a greyhound track at London’s Harringay Arena.

Such was the demand to hear him that he filled the arena every night for three months.

The final meeting of his UK crusade was held at Wembley Stadium, when 120,000 people heard Graham speak of the reception he had received in London.

“These meetings have been far beyond anything we had the faith to believe possible,” he told the crowd. “The spirit of God is moving across Great Britain as perhaps at no time in the last century.”

It was the beginning of what would be a series of missions to all parts of the globe.

Regal treatment
His crusades were always meticulously planned. As his reputation grew, so too did the crowds, from New York to Nigeria. In Korea, more than a million turned out to hear him speak.

In 1957 he invited the civil rights leader Martin Luther King to join him on a 16-week stint in New York, which more than two million people attended.

Rev. Graham was a trusted adviser to decades of U.S. presidents and heads of state.

His popularity is such that he was portrayed in the Netflix series The Crown, where Queen Elizabeth requested to meet him. The WaPo managed to fact-check ‘The Crown’: Queen Elizabeth’s faith and her close relationship with preacher Billy Graham. Unfortunately the WaPo characterizes “his fiery preaching style,” which shows they probably never listened to him.

He was tall, good-looking, very American, hugely appealing, but he made a difference only because of his message – which resonated not just because Billy Graham spoke the words. It’s because he lived them.

“A Christian is more than a person who is living up to a system of ethics. A Christian is more than a person living a good moral life. A Christian is a person in whom Christ dwells.” Billy Graham, 1958, Charlotte

Rev. Graham’s message was “give your life to Christ and receive Him as your Savior.” A direct, simple message.

Here’s a video of the 1957 Madison Square Garden crusade, which includes a lovely performance of His Eye Is On The Sparrow by Ethel Waters,

In this video he emphasized that “the Christian life is one of growth.” I invite you to listen. I was raised Catholic, but Rev. Graham’s message resonates to all Christian denominations.

Here’s a link to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s memorial site.

Shane Vander Hart reminds us of these words from the Apostle Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith,” (2 Timothy, 4:7). Let’s join in a prayer of thanks for Rev. Graham’s inspiration.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

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