“The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.”–Billy Graham
It is no longer news that the great evangelist and televangelist, Pastor Billy Graham, has gone to be with the Lord. The new media was flooded with the news as soon as he drew his last breath, to his genteel lie in state at the rotunda of the US capitol, to his final burial in Charlotte NC where he slept side by side with his darling wife, Ruth Graham, and up until this very moment.
My health finally got the attention it deserves last week and that kicked me into a state of compulsive rest as a friend called it. I seized this moment to meditate and for some reason, the name Billy Graham crept into my lofty mind. I read a bit about him and I drew this conclusion without fear of being misunderstood: Billy Graham is indeed one of the greatest men to have ever walked the surface of this earth. In fact, he belongs to the league of men the world isn’t worthy to host according to Hebrew 11:38. It’s a huge privilege to know that such a man was once amongst us.
Nobody should doubt the magnitude of a man responsible for mentoring great men like Rick Warren who pastors a megachurch in Southern California. “Billy was the greatest Christian of the 20th century, in my opinion,” Warren said. He further added: “The greatest thing about him was having done ministry for 60 years without any scandal.”
Graham maintained a policy called the “Billy Graham rule” that he would not travel or be alone with a woman who wasn’t his wife, a rule Pence has reportedly followed himself (I won’t subscribe to this plan though… LOL).
I don’t think I need to tell you Billy Graham’s type is extremely rare. His integrity has encouraged millions to heed his spiritual guidance, including Martin Luther King, Jr., Bono, Muhammad Ali and United States presidents from Eisenhower to Bush. In fact, he has been rated by the Gallup organization 51 staggering times as “One of the Ten Most Admired Men in the World”. He is the fourth private citizen to be lain in honour (rather than lie in state) in the US capitol rotunda since 1793.
His death pulled as much crowd as his lifetime. It wasn’t surprising to see aristocrats in white evangelicalism, including entertainers like Kathie Lee Gifford and Steven Curtis Chapman; pastors Rick Warren and Joel Osteen; popular speakers Ravi Zacharias and Beth Moore; and political figures Ben Carson and Sarah Palin on the guest list.
Everything written about this 99-year old man is amazing but this in particular, really hit me:
He preached Christ to more than 215 million people in live audiences in over 185 countries. This is just incredibly amazing!
Graham has been credited with preaching to more individuals than anyone else in history, not counting the additional millions he has reached through radio, television and books. It was recorded that he reached over two billion people in all with his gospel of Jesus Christ.
NOTE: The world population as at 1970 was 4 billion so it is safe to say he reached over 50% of the world in his prime.
For a moment, let’s think this way: God created everything for his pleasure so he is the chairman and CEO of this organisation (Heaven and Earth PLC). Everything in this organisation revolves around a product and a brand known as JESUS. We have been employed (recruited) to market and sell Jesus to all creation. Imagine a colleague of ours who has spoken to more than a Billion prospective customers about the same brand we all claim to represent?
Friends, if a man could do this without any social media handle, then no honour is enough to match the level of his sacrifice as he paid the price for his purpose. He deserves our honour and this is the least I can do to say well done Papa.
I noticed many people wrote as if he had it all rosy and calm, they painted the picture that he was everyone’s friend. Graham suffered some great persecution even within his fold; he was not in everyone’s good book. He was criticized on various levels, his approach to the gospel was attacked. Some wings of the church attacked his style as been too simple and watery.
Bob jones once called him an enemy to the gospel of Jesus. He was grossly attacked for giving Martin Luther king Jr a platform to amplify his voice. In all, he walked through the valley of the Shadow of attacks, and he came out unhurt.
Sleep tight Father Billy!