By Michael Ireland, Chief Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net)
MONTREAT, NORTH CAROLINA (ANS – February 22, 2018) – Tributes from such diverse personalities and Christian leaders as Pat Boone, Jerry Lee Lewis, Randy Travis, a British Christian evangelist, Billy Graham’s biographer, and a former radio newsman who covered his Crusades, have been pouring in since the evangelist’s passing yesterday (Feb.21).
Pat Boone was life-long friends with Billy Graham — creating the ultimate tribute song, the likes of which Bono, Lee Ann Rimes, Kenny Rogers and Michael McDonald and the world’s greatest singers recorded. Read more here: http://mwne.ws/2EIfEx3 and see the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cZn5grlA4E.
Boone’s relationship with Graham began in the 1950s when they met at a Christian award gala. A deep admirer prior to their meeting, Graham and Boone developed a close friendship based on their mutual dedication to God. Reflecting on his relationship with Graham and inspiration for this homage, Pat notes, “I was surprised that no one had thought to pay tribute in music to this great man before and I knew it was time.” He continues, “He has brought so many people across the world closer to God. We owe him a huge debt of gratitude.”
Boone said: “I’ve been deeply privileged to know the single greatest man of our times. Billy offered God’s eternal salvation, through Jesus, to hundreds of millions around the world!! My ‘Thank You, Billy Graham’ multi-artist music/video tribute is our mutual attempt to honor his life and sacrificial ministry. I hope families worldwide will have this in their homes–so his fantastic ministry will continue through the ages. I dare say…we’ll never see a man like Billy Graham again.”
View the video tribute at www.patbooneandfriends.com.
“Billy was a great man that I admired, loved to watch when I had the chance, and always enjoyed talking the Bible with him. I thought a lot of him and the works he’s done. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family today,” said Jerry Lee Lewis
Singer Randy Travis said: “Billy Graham’s words of wisdom were music to the souls of the sinner, and the saved, alike. It was my great honor to be called upon to perform at Billy Graham’s Crusades. He was a true disciple, a dear gentleman, and a father-like figure to me… and millions. His impact—immeasurable. His passing—a celebration of a life well lived for God and for mankind. My prayers and gratitude go out to the Graham family—he will be missed, until we meet again.”
“Billy Graham played a remarkable role in Christian publishing,” said Evangelical Christian Publishing Association Executive Director Stan Jantz. “His multiple bestselling books have circulated around the world, impacting countless lives for 70 years. With millions of books sold to date, we know his publishing legacy will continue to have an impact for years to come.”
In 1990, Graham was awarded ECPA’s highest industry award, The Gold Medallion Lifetime Achievement Award, for his significant contributions and accomplishments in publishing.
In 2012 ECPA awarded Graham their highest book award, The Christian Book of the Year®, for Graham’s title Nearing Home: Life, Faith and Finishing Well (Thomas Nelson), which also received ECPA’s Gold Award in 2013 for surpassing 500,000 in sales.
Seven of Graham’s books were recipients in ECPA’s annual book awards currently known as the industry’s Christian Book Awards®, including 1998 winner Just As I Am (Zondervan) and 1984 winner Approaching Hoofbeats (Word).
According to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Graham authored 34 books including his memoir, Just As I Am (Zondervan/ HarperCollins), which remained on The New York Times bestseller list for 18 weeks and appeared on ECPA’s Best of 2012 Christian bestsellers list. His first bestseller, Peace With God (Word), sold more than two million copies in 38 languages. Seventeen of his titles have received Gold and Platinum sales awards for exceeding 500,000 and 1 million in sales respectively.
ECPA plans to commemorate Billy Graham’s publishing legacy during its upcoming 40th anniversary celebration of the Christian Book Awards held May 1st at the Museum of the Bible in Washington DC. Specific plans are forthcoming and will be announced on www.ECPALeadership.org.
Dr. Graham’s biographer William Martin, senior fellow in religion and public policy at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, is the pre-eminent expert on the Rev. Billy Graham. He writes: “The Rev. Billy Graham was one of the most dominant Christian figures over the last 75 years. No more than one or two popes, perhaps one or two other people, came close to what he achieved.
“He was the key leader and the major spokesman of the evangelical movement during the last half of the 20th century. That movement has become one of the strongest in all of world Christianity and world religion, and he played the major role in that.
“He held evangelistic crusades in more than 80 countries; he preached in person to more than 80 million people and live through various media to hundreds of millions of others.
“He brought evangelical leaders from all over the world together, giving them a sense of being part of a great movement and showing them how to cooperate with each other to accomplish a great deal more.
“In huge international conferences, his organization taught tens of thousands of preachers from nearly every country in the world how to do the everyday nuts-and-bolts work of direct evangelism.
“He was a friend and counselor to virtually all the presidents since Dwight Eisenhower and a statesman not only for evangelical religion and Christianity but for the United States and democracy. In recognition, he received the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor Congress can bestow on a civilian.
“Billy Graham represented core American values in a singular way. Though he made some missteps, he remained free of scandal. He achieved his success by hard work rather than by inheritance or luck. He used the latest technology and media, but depended on the loyalty of a small group of friends who were with him for decades. He hobnobbed with the famous, the wealthy and the powerful around the world, yet seemed surprised that people were interested in him. He often seemed to have the kind of wonder of a small-town boy. He was both genuinely humble and genuinely ambitious and aware of the tension between those inclinations. He was not a perfect man, but he was an uncommonly good one.
“I don’t think any single person will be ‘the next Billy Graham.’ Evangelical Christianity has become so large and multifaceted that no one person can dominate it in the way that he did, regardless of talent or dedication. It’s just not going to happen. But ‘Billy Graham’ is not an office in the Christian church that has to be filled, like pope or bishop. Multitudes of people inspired by him will carry on the work of preaching the Christian gospel. And that’s what was most important to him.
“He will be remembered as a person of integrity and, if results are the measure, as the best who ever lived at what he did. He was, in the words of scripture, ‘a workman who needeth not to be ashamed.'”
(Martin is the author of “A Prophet with Honor: The Billy Graham Story,” of which a revised and expanded version releases from Zondervan Publishing on March 6).
NRB Mourns Passing of Billy Graham
“The world has lost a great man, but those in Heaven are surely rejoicing in the homecoming of this good and faithful servant,” said NRB President & CEO Dr. Jerry A. Johnson. “Only God knows how many are there with him because of his ministry and how many more there will be. It seems trite to say he was a giant among men, but no one could doubt the truth of this statement.”
Johnson continued, “For more than eight decades, Billy Graham faithfully obeyed Christ’s command to go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature, as our Lord commanded.
Billy Graham Legacy Website Provides Content on Evangelist’s Unique Life and Influence
As media outlets around the country document and codify the legacy of renowned evangelist Billy Graham, a unique website has been created to provide media outlets with exclusive broadcast-quality downloadable video content free-of-charge. Www.BillyGrahamLegacy.info includes exclusive clips from friends, family and associates of ‘Pastor to Presidents’ and ‘America’s Pastor’
The Billy Graham Legacy website is a repository of more than 700 short topical video clips by nearly 30 individuals paying tribute to Mr. Graham’s personal integrity, consistency of message and influence on the world stage over more than six decades of ministry. In addition to photos and individual clips, the commentary has also been compiled into six full-length vignettes documenting Mr. Graham’s life, available to the public at http://www.billygrahamlegacy.info.
Filmed over the last few years in anticipation of the evangelist’s passing, the video content includes clips from long-time ministry associates, such as Cliff Barrows and George Beverly Shea; friends and family, including his sister Jean Ford and his personal pastor Don Wilton; and others he influenced in business, media and politics, like aol.com founder Steve Case, TIME magazine’s Michael Duffy and Sen. Elizabeth Dole.
Categories include The Man; The Message; The Mission; The Ministry Method and Impact; The Media; and the Legacy, addressing everything from Mr. Graham’s personality and character to his leadership style and role as “Ambassador for God,” Whom he so faithfully served throughout his life.
Many individuals videotaped for the site honored Mr. Graham for his preaching style and consistency of message. “I think one of the great strengths he had as a preacher was figuring out how to focus on those core messages and put those ideas in the context that really were relevant in terms of people’s everyday lives,” said aol.com founder Steve Case. “That was what was so heartening to people – this was a message they could understand, and I could relate to from somebody who I could trust.”
Former Associate Evangelist Leighton Ford added, “I think that Billy Graham’s legacy is, here is a man who knew good news that had changed him, and would change people, and change the world, and millions of people are different because of him.”
Others recognized the impact he had on society and Evangelical Christianity in the U.S. during his lifetime.
British evangelist, Revd Canon J.John, www.canonjjohn.com said: “It is not easy to come to terms with the death of Billy Graham. It was not that his death was unexpected, far from it; Billy, aged ninety-nine, had suffered several ailments for many years. Indeed, in his last book, Nearing Home, he talked confidently and movingly about his impending death. Yet he had been such a major part of the Christian world for so long – I wasn’t even born when he held the first London ‘Crusade’ in 1954 – that it is hard to imagine him not being around. It is as if, visiting some familiar landscape, you find that the great tree that has always dominated it has been toppled.
“You can read the details of Billy Graham’s life in the many obituaries and biographies but I would like to offer a few personal words of tribute here. As a young twenty-five-year-old evangelist I had the privilege of being invited to join him on one of his crusades – WOW! Was I blown away! And a few years ago I was privileged to have a meal with him. Despite my excitement at being in the presence of the great evangelist, I found him to be humble, attentive, warm and encouraging. Yet directly and indirectly he has influenced all that I am and do. Let me suggest that there were three features to his life and ministry that are worth considering and celebrating.
“First, Billy Graham had a faith-filled life. Second, Billy Graham had a faithful life. Finally, Billy Graham had a fruitful life. In terms of evangelism the figures are remarkable: a lifetime audience – including radio and television broadcasts – of over two billion, and more than three million responses to his gospel invitations.
“Yet his influence extended beyond his meetings. Billy started Christianity Today in 1956, was influential in supporting Christian music, authored a number of books and, perhaps most significantly, trained other evangelists. God blessed his faithful servant. I likened Billy earlier to a great tree dominating a landscape. Our sadness at his passing is tempered by the fact that this tree gave rise to a multitude of saplings that now grow over the entire world. He sowed good seed and it is bearing good fruit.
“In the book of Acts the apostle Paul is quoted as saying that King David ‘served God’s purpose in his own generation’ (Acts 13:36 NIV). The same can indeed be said of Billy Graham. We should not seek to imitate him (the world has changed beyond recognition since he began his ministry) but we should be inspired by him. This side of Christ’s return the church will always need leaders and evangelists like Billy Graham.”
Finally, veteran radio newsman Dennis Daily, who reported on many of Dr. Graham’s ministry events, shared some thoughts on the Rev. Billy Graham.
Daily writes: “The death of the Rev. Billy Graham could not have come at a worse time in the history of this country, if for no other reason than a major voice of moderation is gone. This is an era where there seems to be no middle ground. The stalemate in Washington – made worse by a rising time of posturing and name-calling – is the kind of intransigence that flies in the face of all that Dr. Graham had preached against.
“Although he was traditionally aligned with the more conservative side of American society and politics, his constant call to follow the dictates of Christ … feed the poor, take care of the oppressed … seemed a more moderate and charitable course than the signals he may have been sending due to his association with prominent GOP leaders.
“As a kid growing up in a Catholic home in rural southern Indiana, I had an interesting way of looking at the Rev. Billy Graham. I remember in eighth grade telling one of the nuns at my school that Graham was what I thought of as a ‘Protestant Pope.
“Her retort was half scolding, half smiling. I am sure she understood what I meant. I also remember feeling good about sharing my positive feelings about Graham and his growing ministry with the nun.
A KIND OF QUIET AUTHORITY
“Graham, from his earliest days, seemed to exude a kind of gentle authority, whenever and wherever he spoke. Even though I wasn’t sure that I should be watching … Catholic upbringing and all … I could not wait until the next Billy Graham Crusade was on television.
“One of the reasons was that I began to really love and admire the late George Beverly Shea. As a matter of fact, a long documentary piece I did on Shea, which I uploaded to YouTube shortly after his death, has gotten an incredible number of ‘hits’ in the past few years.
“The next time you see an old film of a Billy Graham crusade, just look at the faces of people as Barrow’s music and Shea’s voice filled the auditorium. If you believe in the ability of music to be the ‘hand of God,’” you have proof in what happened at each and every night at each and every crusade.
“And, in many ways, that was Billy Graham’s secret. No fire-and-brimstone preaching here. No faith healing, with people being tapped on the head and falling backward into the arms of waiting assistants. No screaming and yelling and talking in tongues. None of that. Graham was as simple as his message … and as powerful.
“Billy Graham told it as it was, whether people were ready to hear it or not. He was fearless and his attitude and delivery made others feel that way … fearless enough to conquer life’s problems, fearless enough to come forward and answer the call to come to the altar.
GRAHAM HAD INTERNATIONAL APPEAL
“Just about every nation seemed to welcome the Billy Graham Crusades. He ended up preaching on six continents, in 185 countries at 417 separate crusades. His patented method of having a native fellow preacher stand beside him, repeating his words in the language of the people he was visiting, is an indelible image.
“People who were interviewed after the crusades said that when Graham spoke through the interpreter, they still heard Graham’s voice and inflection. Even though Graham was not speaking their language, he essentially was – through his body language and soaring voice. His message rang true wherever he spoke. It is no stretch of the imagination to say that Billy Graham actually DID speak in many tongues.
EVEN THE CATHOLICS WELCOMED HIM
“Over the years, the coming of the Billy Graham crusades became important events in many cities. It was not unusual for many different denominations to assist in the publicity prior to the event. It became a ‘quiet’ fact that whenever Billy Graham came to a city ALL churches benefited. It wasn’t just the Baptists who came to his services. Methodist congregations and even Catholic churches reported upswings in attendance in the wake of Graham’s crusades.
“Graham always brought an awareness of the Gospel wherever he preached. Someone once quipped that Graham ‘could speak on a street corner in any small town, and someone would come forward.’ He had that much charisma and ethical magnetism.
“He was not a big dabbler in politics, while many around him became spokesmen for national civic causes, Graham left most of his rhetoric to the heavenly side of the issues. He could have possibly swung the election to Nixon in 1960 had he played the ‘religion card’ against Kennedy. He didn’t. In his later years he told a reporter that he regretted any involvement in politics he may have had over the years.
“His image of stability and bi-partisanship, though, won him a place on the dais and on the agenda at more than half a dozen presidential inaugurations over the years.
A SLIGHT CHANGE IN WORDING
“Over the years, there has been but one real change in the way Billy Graham carried out his work. After the attacks of 9/11, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association started calling the mass meetings ‘missions,’ instead of ‘crusades.’ With an increased sensitivity of the Muslim community, it was decided that ‘crusade’ had a negative connotation and the word was dropped.”
THIS GRAND LEGACY OF BILLY GRAHAM
“Everyone who preaches the Gospel today owes a debt to him. Every singer and musician and organist and choir director owes a debt to his organization and the men and women who planned and carried out all the background work that made his crusades such comfortable places.
“Every denomination owes a debt to Billy Graham. He was an anchor and a solid foundation in a time when other evangelists had feet and lives of clay. He was the constant that made others proud to be preachers.
“He may not have been the ‘Protestant Pope’ but, in his own way, he lived up to one of the terms used in describing a Roman Pope: Pontifex Maximus … The Great Bridge Builder. Whether it was his ability to bring religions together in cities where he spoke or his ability to bridge international gaps or language and culture and religion, Billy Graham succeeded in his mission.
“America needed Billy Graham. He was among us much longer than most men. For that we are grateful. We need to be grateful. Billy Graham was one of the greatest messengers the Gospel ever had … and he walked among us.
“Billy Graham gave this nation a kind of strong, continuum through some really rough times. Through Vietnam and Watergate, unemployment and White House scandals, riots and embarrassments, Billy Graham seemed to move with a certain ease … a quiet, calming authority. It showed in his message and his voice and his smile. It was as if he were holding God’s hand while he spoke.
“He holds God’s hand…again.”
**Editor’s Note: The writer of this article, Michael Ireland, was aged 11 when he attended a Billy Graham Crusade at Earl’s Court Arena in west London on June 30, 1966, with his mother and father and committed his life to Jesus Christ. He has over his 45-year career in journalism written many stories on Billy Graham and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
PHOTO CAPTIONS: Pat and Lindy Boone with the evangelist.  Billy Graham speaks at the NRB Convention, 1988. (NRB Photo)  Billy Graham (left) shakes hands with Jerry A. Johnson (right), 1993.(NRB Photo)  Billy Graham speaks at the NRB Convention, 1977. (NRB Photo)  Billy Graham appears on the cover of the June 1995 issue of Religious Broadcasting, a magazine of the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB). (NRB Photo)  Michael Ireland of the ASSIST News Service.
About the Writer: Michael Ireland is a volunteer internet journalist serving as Chief Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, as well as an Ordained Minister, and an award-winning local cable-TV program host/producer who has served with ASSIST Ministries and written for ANS since its beginning in 1989. He has reported for ANS from Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Israel, Jordan, China, and Russia. You may follow Michael on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MichaelIrelandMediaMissionary , and on Twitter at @Michael_ASSIST. Please consider helping Michael cover his expenses in bringing news of the Persecuted Church, by logging-on to: https://actintl.givingfuel.com/ireland-michael
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