Billy Graham will be remembered as the most influential evangelist of his time. The Associated Press report on his death Wednesday at age 99 stated: “No evangelist is expected to have his level of influence again.”
Time will tell -- and across time Graham will not be forgotten as a man appealing to people from many denominations, faiths, ethnicities, and from this country and around the world. By his final crusade in 2005 in New York City, he had preached in person to more than 210 million people worldwide.
Graham’s message was consistent: “Jesus died for your sins; repent and give your life to him.”
"I have been asked, 'What is the secret?'" Graham said of his preaching. "Is it showmanship, organization or what? The secret of my work is God. I would be nothing without him."
As he said in Charlotte in 1958: "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."
Christ dwelled in Billy Graham and millions of others because of his influence.
There is no better tribute than the words about Graham by T&D Columnist Harris Murray in 2006:
“He has been an important thread in the fabric of life here in America and throughout the world for all of his adult life. I imagine that he was a typical boy, full of adventure and mischief; perhaps his mother and father wondered if he would ever amount to anything.
“But he did grow up into something. He grew into a man of unfathomable faith and character, willing to give his life completely to the beliefs he holds so dear. He is a man who has influenced kings and presidents and has made friends with people of all nations and all faiths. And he has lived humbly, not with extravagance as some others tend to do. He has overwhelmingly sought the spotlight for nothing other than his God.
“His life has been about one thing and one thing only. He believes in the Lord Jesus Christ and has sought to serve Him with the gifts and abilities he possesses. He has left a legacy not only to his children and grandchildren, but to countless thousands of human beings who have come to his crusades, read his books, attended conferences at his retreat center near Asheville and sought the secrets of faith that he encourages. …
“While most of us may be driven by the approval of others, I believe Billy Graham seeks only the approval of his God. He has spent a life loving and serving Him by sharing the gospel, the good news, with millions throughout the world. He has taken the bitter with the sweet.
(He did not question his failing health.) “Rather, he expressed certainty about his future. ‘I have a certainty about eternity that is a wonderful thing, and I thank God for giving me that certainty. I do not fear death,’ he said. ‘I may fear a little bit about the process, but not death itself, because I think the moment that my spirit leaves this body, I will be in the presence of the Lord.’
“When that happens to this man of integrity, I believe the first words he will hear will be ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant.’”