William Franklin Graham Jr., better known as Billy Graham, was born on November 7, 1918.
According to CNN, he rose to become one of the world’s most famous and influential Christian evangelists, earning the nickname “America’s Pastor” after having met and preached to every U.S. president since Harry Truman.Paul M. Walsh/Wikimedia Commons
According to USA Today, Graham dreamed of becoming a professional baseball player until he realized he didn’t have the level of talent needed to succeed.
At age 15, Graham met traveling evangelist Mordecai Ham and committed his life to Christ.
Ten years later, in 1947, Graham married his wife, Ruth Bell. They welcomed five children into the world together. After 67 years of marriage, Bell died in 2007 at age of 87.
In 1951, Graham held his first citywide crusade in Grand Rapids, Michigan. According to USA Today, thousands of people attended the crusade, which started his path to becoming the most heard evangelist reverend of the 20th century.
In 1957, he invited Martin Luther King Jr. to preach with him during the height of the civil rights movement.
Throughout his lifetime, Graham has held over 400 crusades in over 180 countries.Warren K. Leffler/Wikimedia Commons
In 1983, former President Ronald Regan bestowed upon Graham America’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
As the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association reports on its website, Graham’s sermons have been heard by over 215 million people.
Sadly, on February 21, 2018, the spokesperson of the association revealed that Graham had passed away at the age of 99 after a yearslong battle with cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and other illnesses.White House/Wikimedia Commons
He died at his home in Montreat, North Carolina. Former President Bill Clinton once said of Graham, according to the Associated Press:
“When he prays with you in the Oval Office or upstairs in the White House, you feel he’s praying for you, not the president.”
Our thoughts and prayers are with Graham’s family during this difficult time.