I was very saddened, yet at peace, to hear of the passing of Dr. Billy Graham. I have had tremendous respect and admiration for Dr. Graham my entire life.
As a young man, sitting alone in front of a black and white television set, I first gave my life to Christ in response to Billy’s televised invitation from the New York Madison Square Garden crusade. In seminary, I had the privilege of meeting him—I preached my first chapel sermon with him sitting in the 3rd pew!—and I had the honor of shaking his hand when I graduated. His life-long response to grace, his integrity, and his single-focused desire to give all to Jesus Christ, has long been a model for my life.
“Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!” That was St. Paul’s motto, as it was certainly Dr. Graham’s. I read once that when Billy preached his first Boston crusade, Cardinal Cushing ordered the local Catholic newspaper to find the largest font, and print the headline, “BRAVO BILLY! Give me ten of him and I’ll change the Church!”
There is no question in my mind that the rise and increase of Evangelical faith in Christ around the world and across denominational lines, in the late twentieth century and on into today, is due largely to the faithful obedience of this loving servant of God. May the Lord grant him mercy and rest.