This morning the world woke to the news that Billy Graham, arguably the most recognized evangelist in history, has passed into glory.
Born November 7, 1918, and born again at age 16 at a revival meeting, Graham became a household name for his evangelistic crusades. It’s safe to assume that most Christians in America personally know someone who was saved at a Billy Graham crusade.
By the Lord’s grace, Graham had a formidable influence on the world for Christianity. These facts and statistics, gleaned from his Wikipedia page, give only part of the picture:
- Graham preached to live audiences nearing 215 million people in over 185 countries and territories.
- An estimated 3.2 million people accepted Christ as their savior at Graham’s crusades.
- Graham met personally with every sitting president from Harry Truman to Barack Obama, and had close friendships with some of them.
- With the help of John Stott, Graham founded the Lausanne Movement, a gathering of around 2,700 individuals from 150 countries focused on global Christianity and evangelism. By Graham’s invitation, Stott was the chief architect of the Lausanne Covenant, an influential manifesto for worldwide evangelism.
- As of 2008, his lifetime audience, including radio and television broadcasts, was estimated to exceed 2.2 billion people.
As Barry Horstman sums it up, “He has preached the gospel to more people in person than anyone in history.”
Let us honor Graham by reflecting on twelve quotes illustrating his passion for evangelism and tenderness for the lost.
12 quotes on evangelism:
- “It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge, and my job to love.”
- “Evangelists cannot be closely identified with any particular party or person. We have to stand in the middle in order to preach to all people, right and left. I haven’t been faithful to my own advice in the past. I will be in the future.”
- “When we come to the end of ourselves, we come to the beginning of God.”
- “The cross shows us the seriousness of our sin—but it also shows us the immeasurable love of God.”
- “I’ve become an old man now. And I’ve preached all over the world. And the older I get, the more I cling to that hope that I started with many years ago, and proclaimed it in many languages to many parts of the world.”
- “Sin is the second most powerful force in the universe, for it sent Jesus to the cross. Only one force is greater—the love of God.”
- “We are the Bibles the world is reading; we are the creeds the world is needing; we are the sermons the world is heeding.”
- “I am not going to Heaven because I have preached to great crowds or read the Bible many times. I’m going to Heaven just like the thief on the cross who said in that last moment: ‘Lord, remember me.’”
- “The Bible says today is the accepted time, today is the day of salvation… But there will come a time when it will be too late for you.”
- “Spend more time in study and prayer. That’s the secret of successful evangelism.”
- “Whenever I counsel someone who feels called to be an evangelist, I always urge them to guard their time and not feel like they have to do everything.”
- “You’re born. You suffer. You die. Fortunately, there’s a loophole.”
Billy Graham follows his wife, Ruth Bell Graham (1920–2007), and is survived by his five children and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.