Julia Lucas, Staff Writer
William Franklin Graham Jr., also known as Billy Graham, was an American evangelist, and an ordained Southern Baptist minister. Graham was born on Nov. 7, 1918, and passed away on Feb. 21, 2018, at the age of 99 in his North Carolina home from natural causes.
Graham is said to be the most influential preacher in the twentieth century. Graham pastored at churches, joined missionary groups, and was appointed president of a group of Christian schools; but he eventually found his calling, and decided to focus directly on preaching. His preaching began with a small audience, but eventually grew to larger masses. He gained national fame in 1949 by preaching in a tent in Los Angeles. Graham was invited to preach at revival meetings, or Christian religious services held to inspire members of the church to work to bring in new members. These revival meetings were held in circus tents, and were held for eight weeks, which was five weeks longer than originally intended. Graham found his calling in preaching, and he proved to be incredibly successful.
Throughout his life, Graham struggled with his religious beliefs, and was challenged often by the general public and fellow preachers. Graham’s faith faltered when a fellow preacher argued the validity of his Christian faith based on theological history. Graham did not know how to argue against the facts, so he decided to take a new approach. Instead of changing his whole faith based on historical contradictions, Graham began preaching what the Bible says, and nothing else. He began his crusades, or revivals, and never looked back. Graham was charismatic and inspiring; he had the ability to convert thousands of people to Christianity, and even more to a better life. While Graham was preaching for the Christian religion, he was able to gather support from members of various world religions. Graham’s sermons may have originally been intended for Christians, but he reached an even wider audience over time.
Graham’s fame and influence on society earned him significant roles in supporting victims, and their families, during national tragedies. In 1995, Graham spoke at the memorial service for the victims of the Oklahoma bombing. Again in 2001, on Sept. 14, he led a service for the victims and family members of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Lastly in 2006, Graham, accompanied by his son, held a festival in New Orleans, when they were recovering from Hurricane Katrina. Graham was the beacon of hope for many Americans, by preaching the gospel confidently. He always assured people that Jesus Christ will bring them comfort during their pain, and God will be there to support them.
Graham’s sermons were not only broadcasted in the United States, but also worldwide. He reached individuals from 185 different countries and territories. When Graham began his television and radio sermons, he was able to broadcast his message overseas to anyone willing to listen. His estimated lifetime audience is 2.2 billion. He also impacted the lives of all U.S. presidents since Harry Truman, most of whom he knew before they reached the White House and had close personal relationships with after. Even Queen Elizabeth II was deeply moved by his preaching, and met with him on several occasions. Graham found success everywhere he went, and it was because of his confident sermons and strong messages about God.