By Joy Allmond
Christian leaders, entertainers, and sports figures are publicly paying tribute to “America’s pastor” in the aftermath of Billy Graham’s Feb. 21 death.
On his blog, Lifeway Christian Resources President and CEO Thom S. Rainer reflected on his friendship with Billy Graham, who profoundly influenced his ministry and his home.
“He was a friend, a colleague, and a mentor to me, and I will miss him dearly,” wrote Rainer, founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.
“As I reflect on his life and ministry, I know I will never come close to becoming the man he was. Still, I can learn…. It’s all about Jesus. That was the life of Billy Graham. It was all about Jesus. That is the type of life I desire to have.”
Bible teacher, speaker and author Priscilla Shirer used her Instagram to pay tribute to the late evangelist as she wrote of his impact on her family and his influence on the civil rights movement.
“My father’s message of racial reconciliation was well received because your intolerance for discrimination had already begun to challenge the national consciousness,” she wrote.
“Your integrity, commitment and faithfulness to Jesus has had an impact that has ricocheted through the generations and touched many lives —across the world and in my family.”
Thank you Mr. Graham. My mom worked for your ministry as a teenager and was impacted by your presence in a personal way. My father’s message of racial reconciliation was well received because your intolerance for discrimination had already begun to challenge the national consciousness. Your integrity, commitment and faithfulness to Jesus has had an impact that has ricocheted through the generations and touched many lives – across the world….and in my family. Thank you for living well until your last breath. Welcome home. (Photo of my mom & dad w/the Graham’s from the 1980’s)
Baltimore Ravens tight end and pro-life advocate Benjamin Watson tweeted his thoughts on Graham’s passing.
If for only a moment our eyes could see the glory #BillyGraham is now beholding we would undoubtedly impact the world with the unwavering faithfulness and fervor that he did. I am so thankful for the life and legacy of this great man. Well done good and faithful servant.
— Benjamin Watson (@BenjaminSWatson) February 21, 2018
Entertainer and Today show personality Kathie Lee Gifford, who credits Billy Graham with leading her and her family to faith in Christ, expressed gratitude for his homegoing and shared the gospel-filled hope she carries in her daily life.
“They came in to tell me (about his passing) … and I just immediately put up my hands and said, ‘Thank you, Lord,’” Gifford said on air with host Megyn Kelly.
“And what’s just happened for Billy happened for my husband, happened for my mother, for my father—everybody who dies in Christ goes immediately into the arms of Christ for eternity. That is the hope of the Christian faith.
“Yes, it gives us the tools we need to live in the world today while we are alive, but that’s why I could hold my dead husband in my arms and rejoice, because I knew where he was.”
Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, appeared on CBS This Morning Feb. 22 to discuss Billy Graham’s influence on society.
“He never cut corners on the gospel,” said Moore, referring to Graham’s consistency over the decades. “He was never embarrassed about the message that people can find forgiveness through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. It was the message he gave over and over again, so that the person who’s drug-addicted in the homeless shelter and the United States senator or the billionaire find the same message coming from Billy Graham about the grace of God through the good news of Jesus Christ.”
What made Billy Graham one of the most significant Christian evangelists?
"He was able to use technologies that simply weren't available at any other time in history…he was always a step ahead of everyone else but always getting back to that old time message," says @drmoore pic.twitter.com/aop8GT2r4X
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) February 22, 2018
Saturday, Feb. 24: A motorcade will leave the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in Asheville, North Carolina, around 11:25 a.m. to bring Mr. Graham’s remains to the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina. There will be an arrival service at 3 p.m.
Monday, Feb. 26, and Tuesday, Feb. 27: Billy Graham will lie in repose inside the Graham Family Homeplace, located on the Billy Graham Library grounds. The public is invited to pay respects from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. both days. His casket will remain closed.
Wednesday, Feb. 28, and Thursday, March 1: Billy Graham will lie in honor in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.
Friday, March 2: Billy Graham will be buried beside his wife, Ruth, in the Billy Graham Library Prayer Garden after a private funeral service.
For more information, visit the Billy Graham memorial website.
- Billy Graham’s Life & Ministry by the Numbers
- On Billy Graham, Calling and Humility: A Tribute From a Former Employee
- Flowers Adorn Billy Graham Statue at Ridgecrest
- Billy Graham Remains Influential Among Churchgoers
JOY ALLMOND (@JoyAllmond) is managing editor of Facts & Trends.