Reverend Billy Graham died February 21 at his Montreat, North Carolina home at the age of 99. While an official cause of death was not revealed, he had been dealing with cancer and pneumonia; as well as, other health issues.
Best known for being the most widely heard Christian preacher in American history, Graham was also an advisor for several U.S. Presidents. Preaching to crowds around the world, Graham has traveled to nearly 200 countries; influencing generations of believers and worship leaders.
He held his final crusade in New York City in 2005.
In 1983 President Ronald Reagan presented Graham with the Presidential Medal of Freedom – the highest civilian honour an American civilian citizen can hold. Along with his Presidential Medal, Graham has earned many awards including the Distinguished Service Medal from the Salvation Army, numerous Freedoms Foundation Distinguished Persons Awards, the National Institute of Social Science Gold Medal Award, the National Association of Broadcasters Distinguished Serive Award, the National Religious Broadcasters Award of Merit, the Congressional Gold Medal, is an honourary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, and is a member of the Charlotte Broadcast and Gospel Music Halls of Fame.
While he was originally ordained a Southern Baptists minister in 1939 in Florida, Graham later chose to follow the teachings of the New Evangelicalism movement. Noting that, “God has his people in all churches,” Graham said he intended, “to go anywhere, sponsored by anybody, to preach the Gospel of Christ.”
Though he never actively participated in any Civil rights protests, Graham ended segregated seating at his events in 1953.
He was born William Franklin Graham Jr on November 7. 1918 on a dairy farm outside of Charlotte, North Carolina; the oldest of four children. Raised in a religious home, it wasn’t until he was 16 that young Billy made a commitment to give his life to Christ during a tent revival.
Predeceased by his wife Ruth, Graham is survived by his children – Bill III, Virginia, Anne, Ruth, and Ned; and many grandchildren and great grandchildren.