For eight decades, my father preached on Heaven and wrote books on Heaven—now he’s in Heaven! At age 99, he went to sleep in his home in his beloved North Carolina mountains, and on the morning of February 21 he woke up in the presence of his Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
During his lifetime, he preached the Gospel to hundreds of millions of people in more than 185 countries and territories. His message was always simple and clear—God loves you and sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross for your sins. On the third day, Christ was raised from the dead, and He now offers forgiveness to all who repent and place their faith in Him.
My father was an evangelist, a counselor to every president since Harry Truman and was listed on the Gallup Poll’s list of most admired men 61 times. He was offered opportunities for worldly fame and power on many occasions. Instead, he continued to humbly share God’s love and saving power with kings and queens, soldiers, inmates, students, and ordinary men and women from every walk of life.
He stood up against racial inequality in the ’50s and ’60s, proclaiming that “there is no black or white in Christ.” Against the backdrop of the Cold War and the threat of nuclear conflict, he went behind the Iron Curtain to preach the Good News of the risen and redemptive Savior in the heart of Communist Eastern Europe and Russia. When the evil of terrorism struck the heart of our country on 9/11, he spoke to the grieving nation from the National Cathedral with the hope and comfort of God’s Word.
Raised on a dairy farm in Charlotte, my father was more interested in baseball as a teenager than anything else until the Lord saved him at age 15. Just a few years later, he was called to preach—a calling from which he never wavered. He served as God’s ambassador to the world, proclaiming Jesus Christ as “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6) wherever he went.
Every Sunday afternoon when I wasn’t traveling, I visited with my father, and He often told me that when he got to Heaven, the first thing he would ask the Lord was “Why did you choose a farmer’s son from North Carolina to reach so many people for Christ?” That question has been answered now by the One who sovereignly chose and used him.
My father is buried next to my mother, Ruth Bell Graham, whom he loved so dearly, on the grounds of the Billy Graham Library, not far from the farm where he was born. His headstone is inscribed with these simple words he chose to best describe his remarkable life:
“A preacher of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
President and CEO, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse
Photo: Greg Schneider/©2003 BGEA