A requiem for Billy Graham

A requiem for Billy Graham

“I haven’t written my own epitaph, and I’m not sure I should. Whatever it is, I hope it will be simple, and that it will point people not to me, but to the One I served,” said Billy Graham, the American Evangelist who passed away on February 21 this year at the age of 99. And rightly enough, the proposed inscription on his grave reads, “Preacher of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Billy Graham, who is considered one of the most revered and followed pastors of all time caught my attention when my brother, on one of his visits from the US, gifted me with the book, Hope For Each Day, authored by the pastor. It was a simple book that captured in each of its 755 pages, a morning and evening devotion for every day of the year.

I was particularly impressed by the sincere foreword from the author on the first page. “May God use these daily selections to encourage you and give you hope…may they challenge you to trust his great love, no matter what comes your way,” it read among other inspiring lines. I was deeply touched by his heartfelt note and kept the hardbound book on my bedside table.

Since that day, I have read — and reread — the daily devotions. And just as he had promised in the preface, I found much hope — and inspiration — in his lucid and straightforward writings. With Jesus Christ and His promises of peace and prosperity for those who live by the timeless values of love, truth and justice as the focus, the book brought me hours of joy, insights and enlightenment. The holy and noble words of the book revealed a pastor true to his calling and to his God.

Billy Graham has been voted as “One of the Ten Most Admired Men in the World” for a whopping 51 times by the Gallup organisation, the American research-based company that became known for its public opinion polls conducted worldwide.

Among the many titles given to describe him, the most popular are, “The Pope of Protestant America,” “Superstar Preacher,” “Televangelist,” and “The Pastor to the Presidents.” He is widely regarded and respected as humorous, humble, sincere and accepting.

It is understood that every US President since World War II has met with Billy Graham. It is also said that both Johnson and Nixon, the two who probably sought him the most, offered him high positions in government. Yet, the earnest pastor is supposed to have quickly and politely refused the offers. He truly knew whom to serve. May his soul rest in peace!