Billy Graham 1918 – 2018
“You can come just as you are,” said the pastor standing on the podium and I came. Slowly I walked down the aisle to the front passing many rows of chairs and made a conscious decision to lead a life under God’s leadership. That was back in 1970. Billy Graham spoke at an evangelistic event that was broadcast into 30 European countries. I am adhering to the decision I made that evening to this very day.
Since then I have seen the American, who was bursting with energy, live in Brussels and New York. The son of a milk farmer, with a humble and friendly demeanour, proclaimed his message unmistakeably and clearly: God exists. He loves us and has an interest in the life of every single human being on this planet. In the human Jesus Christ he died on the cross for mankind’s sins and since then we have a choice: either to accept this offer and live a fulfilled life or the reject it and go our own ways.
During his active service Billy spoke to 210 million people in packed stadia. Christians and Non-Christians, Protestants and Catholics came together to listen to him. One of his notable characteristics was his absolute integrity when dealing with “money, sex and power.” His unprecedented success did not go to his head. He saw himself as a tool in God’s hands and wanted to honour Him with his public events. His almost 64 year marriage to his wife, Ruth, serves an example for generations.
That the USA overcame racial segregation is partly due to him. He spoke only in churches, if the leaders permitted a multi-ethnical audience. His sermons had a global widespread impact that even his critics had to acknowledge. Winston Churchill invited him for tea to 10 Downing Street and Konrad Adenauer invited him to his office. Popes, presidents and stars from across society enjoyed meeting the man who always kept his religious flag flying strongly irrespective of circumstances.
He died yesterday and I cannot wait to meet him in heaven one day, shake his hand and say just one word: “Danke”. /KDJ