The Church of the Nazarene joins with millions around the world remembering the life and ministry of evangelist Billy Graham, who passed away 21 February in North Carolina, USA.
William Franklin “Billy” Graham Jr., 99, shared 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, according to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
“Billy Graham’s roles in the U.S. and across the globe were a significant part in the expansion of evangelical Christianity,” said Stan Ingersol, Nazarene archivist. “He had some impact on Christianity on all six inhabited continents, and Nazarenes participated in revival movements around the world that paralleled his work.”
Graham may be best known for his evangelistic missions or “crusades.” He believed God knew no borders or nationalities. Throughout his career, Graham preached to millions in locations from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to Zagorsk, Russia; and from Wellington, New Zealand, to the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. In 1973, Graham addressed more than one million people crowded into Yoido Plaza in Seoul, South Korea — the largest live audience of his crusades.
“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,” Graham said at his final crusade in June 2005 in New York City, New York.
The Church of the Nazarene’s Board of General Superintendents offered the following statement to the Graham family on behalf of the denomination:
To the Family and Friends of Billy Graham:
As the Board of General Superintendents, we extend sympathy and prayers in the death of Billy Graham and express our deep appreciation for his influence for the Kingdom of God and on the Church of the Nazarene across the years. With a gift of both warmth and realism, Rev. Graham shared the message of biblical holiness through his sermons and writings — but most of all through his life. He had a winsomeness that was both commanding and gentle, and was aptly dubbed “God’s Ambassador.” What he taught from the pulpit, he lived out as an example for all who seek to grow in Christlikeness.
The Bible encourages us with great hope in the assurance that to be “absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” In Revelation 14:13 we read these words:
Then I heard a voice from heaven say,
“Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.”
“Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor,
for their deeds will follow them.”
We rejoice with the Graham family in the legacy of faith and love that Rev. Graham leaves behind. Please know that his influence will live on for generations to come through the countless lives that have been touched by his powerful witness. May the One who so faithfully led him across the years lead you now and in the days to come as you open your hearts to God’s comforting presence.
Yours in Christ,
Gustavo A. Crocker
Eugénio R. Duarte
David W. Graves
David A. Busic
Filimão M. Chambo
Carla D. Sunberg
Graham is survived by his sister, Jean Ford; daughters Gigi, Anne, and Ruth; sons Franklin and Ned; 19 grandchildren; and numerous great-grandchildren. His wife, Ruth, died June 14, 2007, at age 87, and is buried at the Billy Graham Library. A private funeral service is planned at the Billy Graham Library, on a date to be announced. Notes of remembrance can be posted at BillyGraham.org.