Rest in peace, Billy Graham
Few individuals in American history have possessed the ability to draw thousands into stadiums or millions to airports or large areas. The death of Billy Graham last Wednesday stopped us all and caused us to ponder his insurmountable impact on our nation.
Few public figures have ever been as sensational as Billy Graham was, yet he remained humble his entire life. It is indeed hard to imagine and put into words the impact of a man who counseled 12 United States Presidents and The Queen of England. When Billy Graham left this earth and drew his last breath it is estimated he presented the Gospel message to over 215 million people in close to 200 countries. But what was it about Billy Graham that drew us all to listen intently to his every word when he spoke to us? It is hard to attribute his success to one thing, but what is certain was his effectiveness.
In a tumultuous time when Billy Graham could have been lumped in with televangelists he remained steadfast in his message. His continuous guidance and perspective influenced many of our nations Presidents in some of our nations darkest times. His title of “America’s Pastor” was well deserved. It is rare that all five former living Presidents issue a statement on the death of a civilian. So fervent was his commitment to the Gospel that he took great initiative to integrate the crusades in the middle of the civil rights movement, and illustrated in the process the love of Jesus Christ. On more than one occasion he offered up a prayer at the inauguration of a President. His success was not only magnetic, but contagious to those who were changed by his words.
Over the weekend thousands lined the streets of his motorcade path just as they had lined up to hear his crusades. Even in death Billy Graham prioritized humility. His casket, hand crafted by convicted murderers, will lie in the United States Capitol for thousands more who will pay tribute to his life and legacy. Few deaths in American history draw such a unanimous consensus of grief. In the days following September 11, 2001 President Bush called on Billy Graham on behalf of the nation to comfort us in a time of great national tragedy. Standing in the National Cathedral in Washington he told us that “The story (of Jesus) does not end with the cross, for Easter points us beyond the tragedy of the cross to the empty tomb. It tells us that there is hope for eternal life, for Christ has conquered evil and death and hell. Yes, there is hope.”
Billy Graham’s story here on earth may be over, but his footprint on the world will never leave us. If there has ever been a person that so deserved to hear the words “Well done thou good and faithful servant,” it was Billy Graham last Wednesday. There will never be another.
Joseph Duncan is the chairman of the Claiborne County Republican Party. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.