Evangelist Billy Graham went to his eternal home in heaven this morning, February 21, 2018 at 7:46 a.m. in his home in Montreat, NC. He was 99 years old, and had lived a lifetime of sharing the gospel of Christ with a world that desperately needs to hear His hope.
“Throughout his life, Billy Graham preached the gospel of Jesus Christ to some 215 million people who attended one of his more than 400 Crusades, simulcasts and evangelistic rallies in more than 185 countries and territories. He reached millions more through TV, video, film, the internet and 34 books.”
One of the many people whose lives he impacted was Kathie Lee Gifford, along with her entire family. She sat down with Megyn Kelly this morning, with tears in her eyes, to reflect on her family’s 50 years of friendship with Billy Graham. She shared, “The thing that I adored most about him is that he remained the most humble and giant of a man you would ever, ever, ever want to meet. He had this incredible, loving presence of a person for the masses, but then when you were one-on-one with him, you were the only person in the room. Rarely do people have both of those gifts.”
She recalls coming home one night and seeing her mom and sister on their knees crying, in front of the TV where one of his crusades had just been on. Gifford said she thought someone had died, but what happened is that someone had been born - born again. She remembers watching the very first movie the Billy Graham Association had put out, called “The Restless Ones,” and in the back of a theater, God used that message to do a deep work in her heart at 12 yrs of age.
Kathie Lee went on to boldly share why we, as believers, can hold on to joy even in the midst of loss and hard times, “Everybody that dies in Christ, goes immediately into the arms of Christ for eternity, that is the hope of the Christian faith…it gives you the peace that passes all understanding, and if we ever needed peace in this world, we need it now.”
She’s been asked before why she’s so bold about her faith, “If you had the cure for cancer, would you keep it quiet? I know the cure for malignancy of the soul, and He has a name, it’s Jesus.”
She says, “I’m not talking about religion, I’m talking a relationship with the living God.”
“My favorite times with Billy were the times that I was honored to just be with him alone, just visiting with him. There’s a wonderful verse in Micah that says, basically, this is what God requires of you — to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. And by those standards, Billy lived an extraordinary, exemplary life.”
“I think the value of a life is if you can look back and say you impacted one person’s life for eternity — how awesome is that? Well, Billy can look back on his life and be absolutely assured that he has impacted millions of lives for eternity.”
Kathie Lee shares about the last time she saw her friend Billy Graham at his 95th birthday party. “I didn’t want to bother him. I was sitting with his granddaughter, Franklin’s daughter, a beautiful girl, and I said, “Do you think it will be all right if I went up to your grandfather and just told him how much I love him, and how much he means to me? And she goes, ‘Oh he loves that.’”
“Everyone left and it was me and Billy. I went, 'Billy, it’s Kathie Lee.' He was looking like around because he doesn’t see very well, and all of a sudden I saw his eyes focus and he looked right into my eyes, and he goes, 'Oh Kathie Lee, I love you.'" Kathie Lee shares how she lost it, and thanked him over and over and hugged his neck, “for how precious he’s been in my life and how constant a friend he’s been to me. And then he said he loved me one more time and I kissed him, and that’s a memory I’ll always, always have.”
These are Billy Graham’s words at his final crusade in 2005 in New York City, and what he so faithfully lived by, “I have one message: that Jesus Christ came, he died on a cross, he rose again, and he asked us to repent of our sins and receive him by faith as Lord and Savior, and if we do, we have forgiveness of all of our sins.”
It was his one simple, yet profound, message of the heart that was shared over and over again, all around the world. God’s word, His story, is so powerful and true, and it was Billy Graham’s mission to proclaim His truth straight into darkness. It was his calling, his passion, his life.
Thank you, Reverend Graham, for touching this world with the Gospel of Christ so powerfully, thank you for your obedience and commitment to stay strong and walk closely with the Lord for so many years. What a tremendous legacy you have left behind. May we be found ever so faithful to carry on the light and message of the cross, just as you have done through a lifetime. I’m sure you must have heard these powerful words spoken over you today, “Well done, good and faithful servant..."
What a treasure.
“Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.” - Billy Graham
Photo: Television host Kathie Lee Gifford attends the 2017 CMT Music Awards at the Music City Center on June 7, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee.
Photo courtesy: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images
Publication date: February 21, 2018