Evangelist Billy Graham dies at 99 — a guiding light to generations of American evangelicals
Evangelist Billy Graham — a guiding light to generations of American evangelicals and a globe-trotting preacher who converted millions to Christianity — died Wednesday at the age of 99, his spokesman confirmed to CNN, a confidant to presidents,
Graham passed away at his home in Montreat, North Carolina, spokesman Jeremy Blume said.
The skinny preacher with the booming voice evangelized to nearly 215 million people over six decades and prayed with every US president since Harry Truman.
He was tall and handsome, with a disarming aw-shucks demeanor and a Southern twang to his voice. But Graham’s influence, historians say, was monumental. Some called him “America’s pastor,” others referred to him as the “Protestant pope.”
Graham is reported to have persuaded more than 3 million people to commit their lives to Christianity and his preaching was heard in 185 of the world’s 195 countries, according to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
“He was probably the dominant religious leader of his era; no more than one or two popes, perhaps one or two other people, could come close to what he achieved,” said William Martin, a former historian at Rice University and the author of “A Prophet with Honor: The Billy Graham Story.”
The creation of a ministry
Graham built his ministry by bringing the gospel message of tent-revival preachers into the modern media age, using any tool at his disposal — from telegrams to telephones to satellites and the Internet — to “win souls for Christ.”
Billy Graham, the 20th-century Christian crusader and father of showman evangelicalism who had the ear of 12 US presidents, has died at the age of 99.
Among the first to pay tribute were Donald Trump and his vice-president Mike Pence, the most recent beneficiaries of the voting power of US evangelical Christians.
From the 1930s until the early years of this century, Graham drew crowds of thousands to hear his rallying cry for Christianity. Over almost six decades, it is estimated that he preached to more 200 million people.
As well as his US coast-to-coast roadshows and tours across every continent, Graham harnessed the power of the media to reach millions, deploying television and radio networks, newspaper columns, feature films and satellite hookups.
He wrote dozens of books and his sermons were translated simultaneously into 48 languages and transmitted to 185 countries by satellite.
Graham, who had suffered from prostate cancer, pneumonia and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, died at his home in North Carolina, his spokesperson said.
Trump tweeted: “The GREAT Billy Graham is dead. There was nobody like him! He will be missed by Christians and all religions. A very special man.”
Pence, himself a renowned evangelical, said his “matchless voice changed the lives of millions. We mourn his passing but know with absolute certainty that today he heard those words: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’”
Jesse Jackson, the civil rights leader and former candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, described him as “the pope of the evangelical movement”.
Jimmy Carter, the former president, said Graham had “shaped the spiritual lives of tens of millions of people worldwide. Broad-minded, forgiving, and humble in his treatment of others, he exemplified the life of Jesus Christ by constantly reaching out for opportunities to serve.”
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