[ACNS] The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has led tributes from Anglican leaders to the iconic US evangelist Billy Graham, who died today at his home in North Carolina, aged 99. Born in November 1918, Graham became a Christian at the age of 16, after attending revivalist meetings led by evangelist Mordecai Ham. After education at the Florida Bible Institute (Trinity College, Florida) and Wheaton College in Illinois, he was ordained as a minister of the Southern Baptist Convention.
While working for the ecumenical mission agency Youth for Christ (YFC), he organised a series of revival meetings in a big top in Los Angeles. It was the start of a series of large-scale crusades for which he became famous – he would go on to lead more than 400 crusades in 185 countries and territories across the globe.
In concluded his autobiography “God’s Ambassador”, with these words: “Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.”
Speaking at his final rally, at Flushing Meadows in New York in June 2005, he said: “I have one message: that Jesus Christ came, he died on a cross, he rose again, and he asked us to repent of our sins and receive him by faith as Lord and Saviour, and if we do, we have forgiveness of all of our sins.”
In an interview prior to today’s announcement, Billy Graham’s son Franklin said that his father, when asked what he wanted on his gravestone, had replied simply: “Preacher”.
“Dr Billy Graham stood as an exemplar to generation upon generation of modern Christians,” Archbishop Justin Welby said. “When it comes to a living and lasting influence upon the worldwide church he can have few equals: for he introduced person after person to Jesus Christ. There are countless numbers who began their journey of faith because of Dr Graham.
“The debt owed by the global church to him is immeasurable and inexpressible. Personally I am profoundly grateful to God for the life and ministry of this good and faithful servant of the gospel; by his example he challenged all Christians to imitate how he lived and what he did.
“He was one who met presidents and preachers, monarchs and musicians, the poor and the rich, the young and the old, face to face. Yet now he is face to face with Jesus Christ, his saviour and ours. It is the meeting he has been looking forward to for the whole of his life.” Read More on ACNSBLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS