Billy Graham has to be the godliest person I’ve ever met. I’m honored to call him a friend and mentor, and as I show in my book, Billy Graham: The Man I Knew, not only was his ministry far-reaching and enduring, but he was also a model of integrity in his personal life. There are so many reasons I admire him and appreciate his legacy, but here are three of the most significant.
1. He was a man of influence.
It’s no exaggeration to say that Billy literally led millions and millions of people to Christ. He preached in countries all over the world—in enormous arenas, small-town venues, and in one-on-one conversations.
He was called America’s pastor, and he has been the most important evangelist of our generation, perhaps any generation—second only to Paul or Peter. He has made the greatest mark on eternity of anyone in our time.
2. He was a man of humility.
Billy rubbed shoulders with celebrities, presidents, prime ministers, kings, and queens, and he also engaged with ordinary people like you and me. Being with him in many different situations—I was with him when he was with one of our presidents, and I have been with him when a waitress took his order in a restaurant—I can tell you he treated everyone the same: with kindness, with love.
He was friendly, warm, and conversational—a wonderful guy. He was a person who took a genuine interest in whoever he was speaking to.
3. He was a man of evangelism
Everything I’ve learned about evangelism, for the most part, I learned from Billy Graham—either from watching him preach or talking with him about preaching. Some things are caught, other things are taught. He was full of wisdom and insight.
Toward the end of his crusade ministry, he asked me to help him illustrate his messages, and so I’d go through them and freshen up the illustrations, and it was great hanging out with him. I would often go up to his hotel room and talk through the illustrations, and if he liked them he put them into his message.
Little did I know I’d been enrolled in the finest evangelistic university on the face of the earth; I was being mentored by the man Billy Graham. And you know, so many of those experiences I think back on today with gratitude, because I learned a lot from Billy on how to function in the space that we call crusade evangelism.
I once asked him, “If an older Billy could speak to a younger Billy, what advice would he give that younger man?” Billy said, “I would talk more about the cross and the blood of Christ, because that’s where the power is.”
That’s advice that I will never forget, and it’s exactly what I intend to do wherever I am able to preach the gospel.
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