There is an old aphorism that speaks of one who is “Doing God’s work”. Over the years it has morphed into a descriptive outside the realm of religion. Going the extra mile, making a difference, doing your homework, doing a job means doing it well, et cetera. All these things describe a truly great man who died yesterday;
Evangelist Billy Graham — a confidant to presidents, a guiding light to generations of American evangelicals and a globe-trotting preacher who converted millions to Christianity — died Wednesday at the age of 99, his spokesman confirmed to CNN.
Graham passed away at his home in Montreat, North Carolina, spokesman Jeremy Blume said.
The skinny preacher with the booming voice evangelized to nearly 215 million people over six decades and prayed with US presidents from Harry Truman to Barack Obama.
Several presidents, including Lyndon Johnson, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, relied closely on his spiritual counsel.
I chose this link because the short video attached provides a quick bio.
Before rock concerts filled up sports stadiums, Billy Graham was doing it.
The message is simple but powerful, that all men are deserving of God’s grace and that Jesus asks only 2 things of us: to love him and to love our fellow man. The rest is gravy.
Over the years there have been a few high profile preachers that turned out to be wolves in sheep’s clothing, greedy men, aggrandizing themselves and not God. Graham was different. He never asked for riches and was the first to make it a policy of never counseling a woman alone, having his secretary always in attendance. He welcomed the fame only as a tool to promote the message to a greater audience. In the spirit of Desmond Doss, “Please Lord, help me save one more,” Graham’s strength was fortified with the belief that more people needed to hear the good news.
A true story. Back in high school me and a buddy drove to the Oakland Coliseum to hear Billy Graham speak. Being too broke to pay for parking, we parked about a mile away in some secluded dead-end street. Big mistake.
Walking back to the car we noticed 2 older black guys walking behind us. As we got to the car one of them pushed what we suspected was a gun through his jacket and told us to get in the car. We did. One got behind the wheel, me in the passenger seat, with the guy with the gun behind me. They took what little money we had and then started driving around Oakland. As nervous as I was I started chatting with the driver. Back in those days I made most of my friends on the public basketball courts, my hoop skills were pretty good, and most of my friends were black. So I started talking hoops. After a bit we started talking girlfriends, I showed him a picture of mine, we got along pretty well. 15 minutes later, he pulls into a gas station, both guys exit and leave me and my buddy jaw dropped, “Uh, what just happened?” We both drive home with a story that we would never forget. God was watching.
For the last few years now I knew that Graham was old and ailing and expected this to come, but it still is tear inducing. When great men pass on, it is the duty of the rest of us to pay proper homage.